The main motivation for us to start brevity comes from our passion to cultivate people's and organization’s creative capabilities.
In most creative projects, the brief acts as an anchor that sets the direction of the creative process. It is in the briefing stage that we set the direction that ideally balances the flexibility to release imagination of the team, and the specificity that keeps the ideas grounded to the business’ requirements. Sounds fairly simple, but we all know that it’s easier said than done. People may have different ideas on how they see the project, and articulating those different nuances becomes a common challenge in a briefing process.
We set out a journey to understand how creative organizations approach the briefing process by embarking in a dialogue with creative professionals in communications, digital, and design agencies. The dialogue, along with our understanding of the foundations of group creativity has yielded to several profound insights:
Ready to explore various ways to do briefing?
what makes a meaningful briefing?
1. Briefing is more important than the brief document itself.itself.
Preparing creative briefs often takes a great deal of time, while it does little in articulating nuances surrounding a project. Instead of focusing on delivering a great brief, it is better to focus on facilitating an inspiring and collaborative briefing session. In a creative process, people may have different ideas of what the project is trying to achieve. Shared understanding may be better achieved through dialogue. Perhaps what we need to rethink is the way we approach briefing process, more so than the brief itself.
2. Establishing ownership should be a key objective in a briefing.
A common challenge in a creative process is to address the silo tendency. As a consequence, it is hard to establish a shared ownership on the whole project. One aim of a perfect briefing is to foster collaboration between different departments, so everyone has a shared understanding of the project expectation. During the briefing session, it is important to agree on an initial direction to depart from. Creative briefs can serve as a documentation of the shared agreement based on the consensus made during the briefing process.
3. Exploring multiple possibilities in a briefing is good for creativity.
There is no magic wand for creativity, but exploration of different associations to things is known to promote creativity. Our mind works based on chains of associations: words, ideas, concept are all interlinked. By providing various angles on how to see and approach a problem, we broaden the joint associative network crucial for creative thought. One good starting point to explore various angles is by exploring the problem space, instead of jumping straight to solutions.
4. Different problems require different briefing approaches.
Every project is unique in its own way. It may be challenging to use a standardized template to communicate the nuances of different projects. The aim of this project is not to create a perfect brief template, but to provide various platforms which creative teams can use to approach briefing. Your role is to use your strategic expertise and intuition to identify which platform is best used to articulate the project and to inspire creative outcomes.
5. Effective briefing requires good facilitators.
Various research has proven the ineffectiveness of brainstorming. There are risks associated with group thinking because of the complexity of group dynamics. Yet, brainstorming still has its value of expanding the group associations to things. "Two heads think better than one" still prevails to a large extent. Facilitators optimize the efficiency of brainstorming sessions. She/he has to be able to guide the team on navigating the realm of chaos, and on balancing requirements and exploration.
7. A collaborative briefing session should address the need for a balance between creative exploration & resources.
With the pace of work creatives have to deal with, lacking time for exploration becomes a classic pain point. Rethinking the way we do creative briefing not only entails improving the way the team works together, but also how to make sure that the time used for briefing is well-spent. In other words, how to come up with as many ideas in the least amount of time? How to reach a shared understanding without hours spent on consensus meetings?
6. Approach briefing as a continuous dialogue.
Instead of going through a linear approach, a creative briefing benefits from using an iterative approach, where collaborative processes are done in cycles. An iterative approach promotes continuous dialogue between different team members, which is useful in aiding the decision making process. In addition, an iterative process promotes a back and forth cycle between communication of requirements/expectation of the project and exploration of various way to approach ideas, which can be useful to balance flexibility and specificity needed in a briefing process.