Creativity in Processes: Tools & Tactics

Creativity in Processes: Tools & Tactics

I am not an artist. I can’t draw, paint, or even write as well as I envision in my mind. But that hasn't left me out of the marketing world- because it turns out even in developing processes you can be creative. Some of us (me) use our creativity not in a typical artistic manner but in the development of efficient processes and operational SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures).  

Hang in there. I promise it’s not as boring as it sounds. Having a standard process in all aspects of your business helps you run more efficiently and effectively and believe it or not, keeps your team happy and proactive.  Who couldn't use more of that?! 

So, what are some ways you can be creative in your process management? First and foremost, you need to work through what type of project management philosophy works for you and your team. 

Creative Project Management Styles:

There are several styles of project management - including Waterfall, Agile, Scrum, and Six Sigma to name a few. Many project managers have a style they prefer, and tend to stick to that as a primary means of managing a team. However, taking into account the different personalities, learning styles and array of job functions on a team- sometimes it works best to be a little more creative. For example, we use a combination of Waterfall and Agile in our systems. 

 

To simplify: Waterfall project management involves working in calculated waves, with each step being dependent on the one before it, and a centralized Project Manager (PM)  taking care of the steps behind the scenes. Sometimes this can slow a process down over time so, combining this system with another alleviates a lot of headaches.  In our case we have combined Agile as a PM ethos, meaning we are flexible in how the processes can change and then update our SOPs as needed. While there is still a centralized PM leading the overall project, there is a strong sense of collaboration and ownership within the project team. Combining these has changed the way we work. Our systems are proven and step and repeat but we have flexibility and collaboration along the way- which is how we are able to get so much done so quickly. 

The best tool we have discovered to manage our processes is Teamwork. This tool was specifically designed with the concept that project management can be creative and therefore is adaptable to any of the project management styles you prefer.. Teamwork allows us to create overall workflows and task templates that apply to our specific SOPs, but also allows processes to be augmented or adjusted based on the realities and needs of real life execution. Everyone in the system has the capability to see what tasks are dependent on other tasks and team members, and it allows us to work more efficiently and collaboratively. 

Once you have chosen a style or combination of styles that work for you and your team, you are ready to move forward into making sure all of this theory works in real life. The first step is to evaluate your overall time management and what tools will work best. 

Time Management

Whenever I think of creative time management I envision the white rabbit running around like crazy insisting that he is late for a very important date. And, let’s be honest, we all have moments (days, weeks- months- 2020?!) like that. The key is to be prepared and flexible in your time management and build in time for fire fighting. 

The key to effective and disciplined time management is that you have to get a little creative in how you prepare and you have to develop a routine to keep you engaged and focused, not to mention motivated. 

We use a routine based approach to preparing our days, weeks and months of work, including daily stand up meetings to discuss the day's key initiatives, and regular check in meetings for small groups and the company as a whole. Communication and collaboration is important when establishing a time management system. Keeping everyone on the same page helps dictate appropriate deadlines and helps every individual plan out their work life. 

As for planning out our work lives, we “practice what we teach” by following the time management techniques discussed in our workshops.  These include intention and goal setting, and the combination of digital and paper tools to help you declutter your brain and overcome the stress. 

Yes, I did just say digital AND paper tools. Because believe it or not, writing stuff down helps you remember more than typing. As it happens a big piece of the time management puzzle is actually being able to remember all the things you need to do. (extra hint: it also helps make those goals a reality.) 

Our team uses the Franklin Covey system and personally, I love it. It allows me to prioritize my big tasks based on my larger goals, and I get a clear vision of the day's work, the needs for the next week and beyond and it allows me to create blocked time for when the fire drills happen. 

Blocked time? Yes. These are often flexible periods of your day when you can tackle a specific task or set a general time aside to cover multiple smaller tasks.  Blocking time helps overcome the stress of feeling like you just don't have enough time to get everything done. It also allows for you to see where in your day you can move things around if and when a fire drill occurs. Extra hint: nothing is so important that it needs to be resolved in less than 30 mins. Breathe and take your time to resolve issues as they arise.

 

By being creative in your processes and sharing the successful processes with your entire team, you will notice everyone becomes less stressed and more willing to be proactive in their roles and beyond- which- let’s face it- isn’t that the ultimate goal? A proactive and happy team?