6 Insights To Drive Change At A Creative Agency
Read time: 5 minutes
So, your creative agency is growing in size. Suddenly it feels like what worked when you were a team of only a few people is no longer feasible now that there is twice the number of staff. Perhaps it’s time to come up with a more structured way of managing the work and running the company.
So, you’ve started looking into project management software options and you’ve come across a solution that seems promising. Your team, however, doesn’t seem very keen on it. What should you do? Implementing change — any change — in an organization is hard when you’re dealing with the feelings and opinions of many people. From the perspective of the non-decision-makers, it often feels like a hole has just opened up in the ceiling and management is dumping stuff down to be incorporated into your routine. There is usually a lot of resistance, not because people are stuck in their ways, but because it disrupts their normal workflow and people simply don’t know how to deal with these changes. Initiatives frequently fail and people lapse back into the old way of doing things.
What can you do to drive change?
At the Lean UX NYC 2015 conference, Esther Derby suggests “driving change,” “installing change,” or even “evangelizing change” are the wrong mindsets when it comes to moving things forward. Instead, change is something that must come internally from within the team, and our goal should be to create an environment that can foster change. In her talk, she shared 6 insights into enabling and.
1. Change Can Only Happen With Congruency
Individuals in a team must feel in balance to be able to look at things with empathy. We often feel vulnerable when we’re pushed out of balance. That’s never a good position to be in when dealing with change. So don’t be that guy who drops a ton of bricks into the room and walks out. Talk to people first before making decisions. When you’re having discussions, focus on the issues with the process and not on the individuals to allow people to analyze issues objectively.
2. Honour What’s Valuable From the Past
It’s hard for people to admit they’re wrong. Chances are they’re not wrong per se, but the circumstances were probably different in the past. The team’s processes simply haven’t yet caught up to the new situation. So, when you start a discussion with your team, fondly remember the past, and the things that got the team to where it is now, before envisioning plans for the future.
People may also have legitimate reasons as to why they might want to keep things the way they are. It may well be the case that certain parts of old processes are still functional. So, in your discussions around issues, also ask what is working. Whenever possible, the new process should be addressing problems, and still allow the team to keep doing what works for them.
3. Seek to Understand the System, Together as a Team
Recalling the desire for change must come from within. It’s always a good idea to try to understand the big picture with your team by diagramming things out. This allows everyone to see what the current situation might be, and to play with different ideas over time. Try to look at patterns and what drive these patterns as opposed to analyzing events, because it’s all too easy to associate individuals to events and start pointing fingers.
4. Find the Connectors & Influencers
Understand the team dynamics and relationships within the social network. Sometimes this can be very different than the company’s org charts. We all love championing our own causes, so finding a way to highlight these key influencers within the network allows them to see the challenge as something worth tackling. From there it becomes much easier to foster change on all fronts.
5. Guide the Change
Sometimes people resist change, not because of the change itself, but because they feel like they’re being forced to comply with no option to influence what’s happening. Enforcing strict rules on standardized processes does not work well, least of all on creative teams. Instead, it’s better to look for coherence. Seek to get everyone to understand which direction the team should be heading and the rationale for this choice. Then allow people to come up with their own strategies of accomplishing it.
6. Big Changes Scare People, Small Forays are Better
The biggest takeaway from Esther Derby’s talk is about creating an environment where people feel comfortable to try new things. People love getting their fingerprint on things and seeing their small contributions make a difference.
So, if you’re having difficulties getting your team to, say, regularly do their timesheet, then you should show them how their timesheets directly influence company success. Put up a dashboard in a public area showing company metrics, and ask the team to brainstorm ways to reach a target. Got several teams? You might even be able to turn this into a competition between them. There’s nothing quite like a bit of friendly heat to get people’s creativity going.
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