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A Casual Guide to Creative Ops & Harmonious Teams

The most authentic way to ID the bottlenecks in your creative workflow
Connor Murdock
Author
Creative Ops

A few years back, I did a stint as a creative business strategist. The studio/department that I worked for was doing well, but we were noticing some lags in our internal process that were leading to less-than-desired bottlenecks in our process. While I worked with the entire team on a daily basis, I knew it was necessary to take a step back and play the role of observer, more than participant.

My first step? I held interviews with each and every member of the creative team and leadership.

Why Interview, You Ask?

Picture this: you're on a quest to uncover the obstacles that are slowing down your creative team. You've got a hunch that bottlenecks might be to blame, but where to start? 

One powerful tool in uncovering these obstacles is through strategic interviews with team members, allowing for a deeper understanding of pain points and opportunities for improvement within the creative process.

Cue the interviews! Why?
Insider Intel

Who knows the nitty-gritty of daily operations better than your team? Creative directors know which talent they use often. Designers and video editors know how many revisions a project typically takes. Project managers and producers know how often timelines go awry.

Hidden Gems

Sometimes, the most mind-blowing insights come from casual chats. You never know—the solution to your bottleneck conundrum might be hiding in plain sight. Maybe there's an unnecessary stakeholder who demands a final say (when they don't necessarily need to).

Team Bonding

Interviews aren't just about gathering data. They're a chance for team members to voice their thoughts and feel heard, building trust and camaraderie. WhenI conducted those interviews with my team, I learned things about them (and their daily life) that I never knew before!

Setting the Stage for Interviews

Alright, before you go all Barbara Walters on your team, let's lay down some groundwork:

Friendly Vibes

Create a comfy atmosphere—no interrogation rooms here! Set up a relaxed space, be it virtual or in-person, where your team feels comfortable sharing. If in-person, maybe grab a coffee around the corner. If it's a zoom call, let your dog or cat make an appearance to lighten the mood.

Open-Ended Questions

Skip the yes/no queries! Go for questions that spark conversation. Think, "What's been the trickiest part of our workflow lately?" or "If you had a magic wand, what part of your process would you zap away?"

Listen Like a Pro

Engage your active listening skills. Let team members spill the beans while you soak in their wisdom like a sponge. While it's tempting, try not to finish their thoughts for them. Let them complete their full thought before commenting.

Conducting Interviews

Alright, time to bust out those questions. There are several types of questions you should bring to the conversation. Here are some quick examples:

Workflow Woes
"What parts of our creative process feel like wading through molasses?"
Team Tango
"Do you feel like we're all dancing in sync, or are there communication hiccups?"
Tools & Tech
"Are there tools or resources you wish we had to make things smoother?"
Approval Hell/Heaven
"How do you feel about our approval processes? Smooth sailing or a rollercoaster of edits?"
Creative Freedom
"Do you think there's room for more creative brainstorming and experimentation?"

Wrap-Up: Decode & Adapt!

Armed with your newfound trove of insights, it's time to decode those interview nuggets:

Decode

Look for recurring themes or pain points. These might be the keys to unlocking those bottlenecks. Tally up common topics and map them together based on your current process.

Adapt and Overcome

Tweak your workflows, tools, or communication strategies based on what you've learned. Flexibility is your best friend here.

Conquer the Bottlenecks

Roll up your sleeves and put those insights to work. It's time to bid farewell to those pesky bottlenecks and welcome a smoother, more efficient creative journey!

Armed with your interview insights, it's time to embark on the adventure of bottlenecks busting! Go forth, decode, and let the creative juices flow faster & more freely.

Connor Murdock
CEO/founder of Basil. 10+ years working in the creative industry as a professional video editor, motion designer, & creative director
Creative Ops
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