Professional Foundation
Professional Foundation
Professional Foundation

The Created Process

Kati Russell, Created Learning Designer

Whether you’re a lover or a fighter of process, as commercial creatives it’s part of the job. Process is what transforms our wild ideas to valuable, real-world applications. It provides transparency within our teams and for our clients and gives us an anchor point through the sometimes unsteady project waters.

So what does a good process look like and how can you make sure that it is an active tool in your project toolkit? We’ve shared our Created process with you here to show you how we do it and we’ve given you three questions to ask at each stage to keep you on track.

Our process is pooled from our own collective industry experiences and, of course, includes cherry-picked elements from those who have made process their reason for being (see IDEO, Design Council). No matter what the task, it’s always there to ground us and keep us progressing. And it starts with the brief:

Step 1 Brief

1. Brief

You’ve got a brief from a client, or you’ve written your own brief (if it’s a personal project). At this stage, it’s crucial that you understand the challenge. Let the brief percolate for 24-48hrs and then challenge the brief. Sometimes the real brief can be hidden. It’s important to ask questions which create friction and test the content of the brief.

  • How do you know that….?
  • What do you want people to think/feel/do as a result of this activity/project?
  • What are the biggest obstacles to achieving success?
Step 2 Understand

2. Understand

In addition to interrogating the client objectives and intentions that sit behind the brief, before you jump into research and inspiration, it’s important to take some time to make sense of the brief in the context of you as a creative. Here are some reflective questions that you might want to consider:

  • Does this project align with my goals and values?
  • Are there any new tools you’ll need to learn?
  • If you’re freelance, can you honestly commit to this right now?
Step 3 Research

3. Research

This is about gaining a deeper understanding of the brief, the audience and the wider context, all to build your knowledge base before you start developing ideas. Go wide and deep into as much weird, wonderful and importantly authentic research as you can. Watch films, read books, go to galleries, talk to taxi drivers and immerse yourself in real people’s real worlds.

  • Am I asking the right questions to the right people?
  • Am I pushing outside of my immediate influences and references?
  • What is the story in the brief, the audience and the research?
Step 4 Imagine

4. Imagine

If the initial rounds of the creative process – especially when faced with a client brief – are the invaluable stages of absorbing information and acquiring knowledge, this next phase is about developing your ideas. At this stage of the process you are looking to produce as many ideas as possible.

  • What would make it more surprising/engaging/useful for the customer?
  • What if I had no budget or all the money in the world?
  • Are my ideas still responding to the brief?
Step 5 Develop

5. Develop

This is where you make, test and iterate. We work in cycles here and filter as we go, constantly seeking feedback. With version after version gradually becoming more and more refined and ‘on-brief’ until it’s ready to deliver to the client.

Some useful questions for eliciting feedback are:

  • What is your favourite part about this idea?
  • What don’t you like about it?
  • What barriers can you see getting in the way of this?

If you get feedback and you don’t understand it, ask “what’s important about that?” to the person giving you the feedback. This will help them reveal to you the rationale behind their feedback.

Step 6 Deliver

6. Deliver

Finally, when all of the amendments have been made and the files have been exported, you’re ready to deliver the project to the client or share it with the world. This needs some thought too. Often the way we present something drastically affects how someone else receives it. Think about your pitches, presentations, and online content. How can you maximise the impact of your excellent work?

Practical things to consider if you’re not in the room:

  • Are my files labelled with understandable naming conventions?
  • What’s the supporting narrative that you’re supplying with this, for any outsider who hasn’t been on this journey with you?
  • Does the client need a cheat-sheet/guide to share with their internal team?
Step 7 reflect

7. Reflect

This is the step that most companies and professionals say they don’t have time for. But it’s absolutely essential if you want to maximise learning from projects and improve for the next one. It’s simple. Stop and look back at what happened and take your learnings forward:

  • What went better than you anticipated?
  • What new techniques/methods/ideas did you try that worked well?
  • What did you try that didn’t work so well?
  • What could be even better next time?

The Created process is your creative contract to yourself and your team, your compass during the creative chaos, and your roadmap to successful evaluation.

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