Operational Excellence

With Creative Projects, Never Give Up on an Idea You Love

by Brad Egeland, July 28, 2015

This is a quote from Margaret Johnson, co-ECD at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco. It sums up the creative process pretty well, in my opinion anyway. I mean, isn't that what creative projects are all about? Doing what you are passionate about and making it work for your company, for your next successful marketing initiative, and most of all, for your client.

The best teams are built around individuals who love what they are doing and believe in what they do. That passion will show through in the work you do, the creativity you bring to the table and how you engage the project clients. And most of all, this concept falls right in line with my personal four key ways to bring your best to creative project management and performance:

Work on things that bring out your passion. Work on ideas you love. And if the client’s wants and needs don’t line up well with those right now, discuss options with the client that do line up better with your passion. Your passion may sway them – it often does. But if it doesn’t, be prepared to accept exactly that what the client wants and thinks is in their best interest and run with that. The ultimate goal is to make the client happy every time, not necessarily to make you happy every time.

Take risks – at least periodically. Think outside the box to get things done, make things more interesting, feed those creative thoughts and juices and give the client an even better solution than they were hoping for. Don’t go outside the scope of the project without approval or change orders, but over deliver where possible. Especially if by doing so you have the opportunity to secure even more business with this client.

Take ownership. Take ownership of your tasks. When the creative team is involved early and thoroughly throughout the project, task ownership is higher and passion for the outcome is higher. Own your tasks and own the success of the project. For project managers, breed that ownership by involving the project team throughout, beginning with the planning process and continuing through weekly status updates with the client and on to solution rollout.

Exhibit leadership. Don’t just follow. Following is boring. Even if you’re not the creative lead on a project look for areas that you can lead in and work to fill that need or gap. The client seems to want something a little different than the original requirements called for? Take the initiative to draw up a change order and estimate and show it to the project manager or creative lead…then ask to be the one to present it and discuss it with the client. Look for ways to take the initiative. Grab them and run with them.


There is no question that we are more involved and perform at a higher level with things we are passionate about. If you’re married, think about that first date with your wife or husband. If it all clicked right away, it was probably better than any other date you’ve ever been on. Now think about other relationships. Not quite the same, right? If it all fits, and it’s what makes you happy, you’re going to be happier doing it and probably more successful at it. Look for those opportunities. You’ll still have to do things you don’t necessarily love or even like, but you have to still do your best to bring the passion to the table. The client will appreciate it and it'll show in the successful outcome of the creative project.

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