When you’re managing a team of creatives,and everyone (including yourself) hits a roadblock, what do you do? Unless you’ve got the luxury of calling up the client and saying you’re no longer working on the project, you and the team need to figure out a way to get around the block. Take a look at these techniques to get a few ideas for getting unstuck.
Stop Working and Step Back
While this might seem counterproductive, taking a “breather” can be quite useful. If you have another project to work on, spend some time with that to get your mind off of the project. When you return, you might find that your previous train of thought didn’t account for a few things that can help your stuck project spring forward.
Even if you don’t have another project, see if you can take an early lunch break, or even spend 10-15 minutes outside of the office just to get away from your desk for a bit. A change of scenery can clear your head and help you return to the project with a fresh mind. You’ll find that the dead-end you were up against is a lot less overwhelming, and your ideas can start flowing again.
Use Previous Projects as Guidelines
When you come across a problem you have already solved, there’s no reason to reinvent the proverbial wheel. Take a look at the project history. Try to find a project with a similar problem and stopping point, and review the solution you employed. If you can tailor the solution to your current project, you can get the ball rolling again.
Although using previous projects as guides can prove to be helpful, make sure to be careful, too. You might be tempted to transform the current project into one that more closely resembles your prior work. When you change the present instead of adjusting the past to help you in the present, you can run into big problems down the road. Most notably, that your deliverables no longer match what the client wants, but rather match your former project’s deliverables. You can also run into an endless loop of trying to solve current problems by referencing the past, which is a lot more difficult than solving them on your own.
Look for a Solution, Don’t Criticize Ideas
When you get your team together to brainstorm for possible solutions, never dismiss ideas because you think they might not work. Get everything down on paper before going through the list. If you criticize an idea, no matter how farfetched it appears, the person who posed it may not be as willing to provide future options. And who knows, he or she might have the golden thought that gets your team unstuck, but just needs to wade through a few other ideas first.
When you do start addressing options, stay positive. Don’t dismiss them as being “impossible” or other negative connotations. Try to sort them into different areas that all have a positive image. Terms like “easy” and “more involved” are preferred over “good” and “bad”. Then your team will still know that you’re trying all the easy solutions first before moving toward the more involved options.
Keep Everyone Updated
When you have a project that’s been frozen for a while, make sure that you keep the team aware of what’s going on. Whether it’s news from the client or an idea that you’re pursuing, your team can help you when they have all the information.
The other aspect to updating your team is to only do so when you have information to give. If you send out daily status reports without any new information, you might lose your team’s interest. Then when you have actual news to report, the status messages go unnoticed.
When you’re up against a wall with your creative project, it can be easy to spin your wheels and spend a lot of time going nowhere. Use these four techniques to keep the project moving forward, even if it means moving at a slow pace for a little bit while your team gains traction again.