groupthink or team win?

20Aug07

Groupthink

“Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. During Groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking.” source: Wikipedia

How do you enhance the creative concepts presented to you? By encouragement and supportive comment of course, I’m sure. But were you to identify a problem, dare you also suggest ways you would ‘improve’ or strengthen an idea? Or is it best merely to point out where the particular consumer or creative minefield appears, rather than try to help map a path through it?

If you aren’t an Art Director or Copywriter, dare you tread on creative turf and suggest solutions? Does this move you from the objective position of highlighting the problem to the supposed subjective territory of trying to provide creative solutions?

In my experience, while some creative teams prefer to exclusively respond to identified problems with their own revisions or alternatives. There is some benefit in discussing a creative problem with the larger agency and client team. But not necessarily for the reason you’d think.

Opening up debate around a creative concept provides a useful way of involving the decision makers in highlighting the problem (and exactly why it’s a problem), while not trying to originate a replacement solution themselves.

Originating creative work is difficult. Originating and perfecting great creative work is enormously difficult. If a concept causes concern or is actually rejected, the opportunity exists for collaborative discussion about the problem. Here it’s important not to navel gaze or become bogged down in the minutiae of the concept as presented. But instead it may energise consideration of the concept, along with debate around the limitations and problems of such an idea; how its message, subject, clarity, execution, tone etc. raise cause for concern.

The distilled feedback from such debate may help to focus and sharpen the brief, allowing the creative team to respond far better prepared. And with possibly the same idea (but better realised and with supporting argument) or a new idea that overcomes the problems that are now crystal clear.

One word of warning though, such debates shouldn’t become common steps toward improving shallow or sloppy briefs. The brief should be considered tight and correct before the creative process starts.

The 2 potential benefits of such debate around creative problems are clear:

– Involvement and debate by peers builds team interaction and support. Open debate lets people feel they should air, not ignore, problems through positive discussion. Teams bond, people collaborate, accounts stabilise, and people prosper. This doesn’t mean all of the comments and suggestions are acted upon, but they are listened to. Hopefully they may be sifted and reduced to the core by the planner and worked on with the creative team away from the crowd. But the crowd will feel they participated and a smart creative team will give the impression, at least, that the crowd were heard when they next present the work.

Secondly, if a planner does their job well, the research necessary to understand an audience and market takes place before the creative briefing. This allows the creative concepts to be evaluated by the paid experts, rather than researching concepts the agency and client aren’t completely confident about and parading them in front of the bribed consumers for their inexperienced interpretation.

If you were a creative, wouldn’t you rather hear comments from experienced professional colleagues, rather than fairly random consumers? Even if you choose to ignore most of them?

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One Response to “groupthink or team win?”


  1. 1 State Bar Task Force — so far, ‘everything is awesome.’ | The Irreverent Lawyer

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