Last Friday night, I attended a workshop hosted by the DC chapter of AIGA, an organization I have been involved in for more than 10 years. Moderating the workshop was Stanley Hainsworth, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer for Tether, and former VP Global Creative for Starbucks, and Creative Director for Lego and Nike. I would be lying if I didn’t admit to having a little bit of a design crush on him. While the topic of conversation — Showcasing the Strategic Business Value of Your In-House Team — was specifically geared towards designers, many of Hainsworth’s tips are relevant for anyone in the marketing or creative industry.
1. Track the time spent on your various projects. Share this with leadership and set priorities based on the company goals. If a new project comes up and doesn’t fit in one of the priority buckets, evaluate if the project should take away resources from another bucket.
2. Host a monthly show and tell and invite everyone in the company. Showcase high-quality, high-impact, and successful examples from other industries. By showing off these high-quality examples, you can gently suggest the type of work your company should be doing.
3. Create side projects for your team. These “no-client” projects are a great source of creative relief for your team and will show senior members of the staff that your department is constantly thinking of new and creative resources for the company. And don’t always make the the project something relevant for the company. At Starbucks, the creative team developed a “tee of the month” initiative, where designers created a new tee shirt every month. The project was such a success it was turned into an online shop, BassTruckReactive.com (that’s Starbucks Creative re-arranged).
4. As a team, share something outside of work that you enjoy. If someone enjoys cooking, host a potluck for lunch. If it’s running, go for a fun run after work. Getting to know your team as people helps build the relationships needed to work together successfully.
5. Work in the field for a week. At Starbucks, the entire creative team worked in a store for a week. After a few days, Hainsworth observed that customers in line would often order the same beverage as the person in front of them — and it was not a coincidence, they didn’t know what on the menu to order. With this information, the Starbucks creative team developed a promotion to teach customers how to order. After clicking through a few screens, their customized beverage would appear and the customer would receive a tee-shirt with order. A similar promotion “My Drink As Art” is now available for Starbucks gift cards.
6. Finally, Hainsworth suggested rather than giving performance based bonuses, tie bonuses to specific business problems. Good design and good marketing should solve a specific problem. As problemsolvers, this will not only encourage your team to take ownership of these problems, but it will show senior leadership that you are entirely committed to the success of the project.
Implementing even one of these tips will help your team work together to show those outside your department the value you add to the success of the company.