Saturday, October 02, 2004

5 Vital Steps

Implementation = Great Work

We've done this before. These are the steps. The right people do the right things in the right order to consistently achieve the right results.

Purpose: To understand the context in which the solution must work, and to articulate the strategy that underlies the creative direction.
What's really going on: At the beginning of this step, we tend to look at
documents (communications, business plans, studies, etc.). From there, we tend to engage in conversations, conduct interviews. The context includes the marketplace, the competition, and the company or brand itself. In gaining a detailed working understanding of the context, our goal is not to become more expert at our client's business than they are, which is not possible, but to become sufficiently grounded to ask the right questions.
Deliverables: Vary. At a minimum, a set of criteria to guide exploration (the next step) and to help evaluate results. Depending on the assignment, deliverables might also include audits, assessments, and competitive surveys various types of findings.

Purpose: To chart the possible creative directions that might yield a solution.
What's really going on: During this step, we're essentially asking, "What if?" Drawing on inspirations. Making connections. Surveying the realm of possibilities. We try to remain open to anything, to edit nothing out. This is where it's helpful to have a broad range of experience and wide-ranging interests to draw upon.
Deliverables: Notes, scribbles, show-and-tell, found objects, things torn from magazines, pages marked in books, etc. Strictly speaking, these aren't always deliverables, since our clients don't always see them.

Purpose: To develop the most promising creative directions in depth.
What's really going on: From the universe of possibilities, a handful emerge as the most promising — often because they hold the best hope of satisfying the criteria we developed in step one, or because they hold the richest potential for further development. At a minimum, we focus our attention on two or three of these directions, and develop multiple variations or interpretations for each.
Deliverables: A presentation of many ideas, possibilities or alternatives expressing multiple creative directions. Depending on the solution, this presentation can take a variety of forms.


Purpose: To refine the most promising candidate(s) from the most promising direction(s).
What's really going on: Now we're really narrowing our focus. Step by step, our concerns have moved from the most strategic and conceptual to become increasingly formal. At this point, we've more or less committed to a limited number of solutions (knowing, of course, that we can always go back to explore other possibilities if we gain new insight or if the context changes). Now we're refining and modulating their specific features or qualities.
Deliverables: A presentation of a chosen solution (or a limited number of solutions) showing a higher level of resolution now that we have focused our attention on working it out.

Purpose: To finish the solution, once agreement has been reached.
What's really going on: In this step and the one preceding it, care and attention to detail play a critical role. A good idea that's been poorly executed is not the same as a solution. "Finishing" the solution means "giving it a high level of finish" at least as much as it means "completing it."
Deliverable: The completed work in final form, ready for application and use or, depending on the assignment, replication and dissemination to its intended audience.

We care about our work. Above all, we sincerely want it to work for our clients. After completing an assignment, we actively seeks to stay in touch. We're eager to see how our solutions perform, to be available for any necessary refinements or updates, and to identify additional needs or opportunities, including next steps in the brand-building process. There's no greater satisfaction than helping our clients achieve their objectives —except helping them to attain their next set of objectives.

Thanks to Scott Mires.

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