Years ago I worked for a company that held "Creative Review Boards." As a more junior person, I didn’t attend many of these meetings, which were populated by a lot of grey-haired people. I just knew that when these review boards were over, most of the people whose work was being reviewed were frustrated with the changes they were required to make to their work – and not many people outside that room learned anything from the meetings.
Contrast that situation with one where virtually everyone in the agency learns from the critiques given in the spirit of improving or confirming the work and delivered in a safe, open environment.
You’ll read more about this in Part 2, "In a Full-Feedback Environment." But to illustrate how we share knowledge, here's one example of how we review creative:
The BrainBangers' Ball: Once a week we bring in lunch and the entire agency joins in a brainstorming/focus group session. The team brings their work in progress to The Ball. They remind the entire agency of the target and the communications strategy. Then, they show the work and listen to and record the feedback. Everyone hears the more experienced expert opinions. And the more experienced hear opinions from both male and female, young and old, from various ethnicities and all our marcom disciplines.
They might hear a PR specialist warn that journalists will not be interested if this particular angle is used on a media relations pitch. They might hear an art director say something like, "To make the logo more important to the layout, you don't have to make it larger, you just need to leave more space around it." Or a copywriter might make something easier to read by suggesting that fewer words would allow a larger typeface. The entire agency might learn what works and what doesn't work in alliance marketing by helping to brainstorm partners for a cross-promotion for one of our clients. Or an interactive designer might learn – along with the entire agency – that a particular navigational design is not intuitive because many people in the room were confused by it.
Less experienced associates' self-esteem and confidence is often raised when they receive positive feedback on their ideas. Some people learn from others that some of their thinking is outdated.
The entire agency sees the inner workings of a client when its projects are brought to The Ball. So when that team needs to reach outside itself for help, the other associates are somewhat up-to-speed on the client and the project.
It's almost unbelievable. But the entire agency sees every project of any significance as it moves through the processes. Try that in a pyramid structure!
Massive amounts of information are exchanged in a short period of time. Client work is improved. Consumer research with a large qualitative sample base is completed in a matter of minutes. And the learning curve is accelerated for virtually everyone – especially the less experienced.
Impressive creative, research and educational power is generated by this sharing of knowledge.
This is a "creative review board" at its best!