The Communication Component of Creative Projects

Some thoughts about how good communication leads to a successful project

April 12th Articles 6 min read
The Communication Component Of Creative Projects

It’s probably not a coincidence that the Led Zeppelin song, “Communication Breakdown” was the B-side of the single “Good Times Bad Times” back in 1969. We have a few thoughts on how to make a creative project one of the good times.

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Align Expectations

From Day 1, we’ll set communications expectations and guidelines with you, laying out the the frequency, format, and platforms for communication. In our experience, there can be a lot of frustration when everyone’s not on the same page about how we’re going to communicate.

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Processes vs. Flow

We may throttle up and down the communication rate during a project. During a critical stage, the frequency can increase, and then scale back when iterations and reviews require more time to ponder. Our weekly sprints are a great way to keep a project moving, but we’re flexible and let communication flow as often as is necessary. The exchange of information is vital to making progress, keeping everyone involved, and getting input from key stakeholders.

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Be Proactive

You expect us to be responsive. And we are. But that’s only part of the picture. We tend to lead the conversation—being proactive, rather than reactive. But we also expect you to get out in front of a project when you see the need. Great communication should feel like a thoughtful back-and-forth discussion with everyone working toward creating the best results and achieving our collective goals.

Keep it Going

As with any conversation, there are natural pauses. You need time to ponder and give us feedback. We need time to absorb your feedback and iterate. These quiet times are like moments in a conversation where one person’s thinking about how to best answer their friend’s question. On the other hand, it’s important that no one “goes dark”. A few days of contemplative silence is expected before giving us feedback, but a week or more can stop a project cold.

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Organize Your Feedback

Compiled input is the most efficient way to communicate. It’s best to gather thoughts and feedback and send it once or twice a day, making it easy to log and address. These days, with our inboxes overflowing, communication is most effective when it’s refined and condensed.

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Be Definitive

Great communication minimizes chatter. For example, when you’re trying to set up a meeting, casting a wide net might seem friendly, but mostly creates a lot of back-n-forth. Don’t start a conversation with, “I want to talk this through. Do you have time for a call?” Instead, go with, “I want to talk through the following items [list of items]. I have openings in my schedule this week on Wednesday from 3-5 and Friday from 1-3. Do any of these times work for you? If not, can you provide some options?”

If you’re on the receiving end of this message, a specific answer is best, such as, “Yes, let’s meet from 1-2 on Friday. I’ll send you an invite.”

The reply to this message can be a simple, “Sounds good.” That’s a good goal to aim for. If the final reply is, “Sounds good, OK, Perfect,” or something similar, then the conversation’s reached a clean, clear conclusion.

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Pick Up the Phone

If something is urgent, or requires a deeper understanding, we suggest a quick call or video chat. It’s a proven way to get across subtle details and set priorities. Nuance is difficult to get across in electronic communication. We find it’s more efficient to talk through a complex idea than to exchange a ton of messages, and it reduces noise in your inbox.

Good Times

Maintaining good communication throughout a project can be tough. We understand. Everyone has a lot on their plate and the project we’re doing with you is likely one of many that demand your attention. It’s our goal to keep things moving, to make sure everyone is heard, and that challenges are addressed in a timely manner. What’s most important is that honest, effective communication happens on a regular basis. That keeps the project on everyone’s mind, produces the best results, and makes a project more fun.

Sound good to you? Let's chat.

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