Constructive Feedback & The Creative Classes

Creative and Constructive Feedback

The Theory – In this post we are going to cover how to give creative feedback, how giving detailed creative feedback helps you, and what to do if your creative ideas aren’t hitting the mark or meeting your goals.  This body of thought that  we are going to cover, extends throughout the majority of human endeavors in groups. The smallest group is the mind and body. You will see how this flows in to many disciplines, especially effective project management.

Any project requires goals and parameters to be successful. But the project itself is ethereal, it exists only in our minds.  Communicating in detail is essential, even if it is internal first.  This can be applied to artistic endeavors, from sound to images, to structures and systems. All professions must focus on the goal, the parameters that lead to and define those goals and communicate them them.

What if you are not someone in charge of creative output? Why might you need to know how to give feedback on creative matters?

Because, You will end up in situations that require you to give your two cents on something creative. Whether its new graphics for a brochure, or an album cover, the layout out of an office, your new website for your business. Many times depending on the scope of your project you may hire an external company or agency( be creative in your thoughts as you read this, this applies to the contractor for your kitchen , the art gallery you choose for your exhibit,  your barber or hairstylist, the picture your children draw you. ) or you may choose to keep it in-house. You may even hire a single freelancer.

In all these cases, its important that the feedback process runs smoothly so you get the best results. Knowing how to give feedback in the right way will save you time and money, keep everyone on the same goal, and keep morale high. This applies to your inner voice, the goals you set for your family, your department, your firm, your unit. Nation states rise and fall on effective feedback systems.

The Actions –

No matter the initiative , organization occurs.  Your first action should be to write a brief to organize , align goals and parameters. It doesn’t matter if it is an ad campaign, music album, a hiking trip , and e-card, or simply your personal desire to change your state of being. You must be crystal clear to yourself and/or your team what the goals are, and what determines and is required for success.

This “brief” is your guidebook. It helps you and your team navigate the process. It outlines goals, timelines, parameters, and deliverables. All the information that can help your team meet expectations. We as a service go in-depth and design this competitive advantage for firms and individuals.

This “brief”, this “guidebook” is a product itself and has immense value . Think of it like this, there is a “guidebook” or “brief” , that allows corporations like 3M to make Kevlar , more so – every step and the construction of the facilities has to be documented as well. This in itself is an incredible the product. The hidden intellectual capital is THE most valuable asset.

The brief holds everyone, including you accountable. You can’t expect good results if you switch up the parameters or judge work by a new objective. Feedback should line up with the goals out lined in the brief. You can mutually agree to change course as the project moves forward, but the brief should be the starting point from both sides.

When you present this information to others in your team. Have everyone talk it over with a focus on the larger picture.  The small details are important.  Many of them will be generated during the time team members take to think over the information and present questions.

Constructive feedback is about focusing on the objective not just the opinion. Give concrete reasons and justifications for feedback:   “This color doesn’t match our brand identity”, even understanding this and communicating it to your team or  your community you have built allows you to target your creative output, giving you the best outcome for a given project .

Certain fields within the creative realm have no definite right or wrong. This is all a framework for creating  environment conducive to creativity that can be replicated. Creative teams tend to also need time and its hard to gauge deadlines. If you feel like deadlines are being missed on a team or even individually, look at the reasoning being the choices.  Your point of view can be more of a thought starter, which is more constructive than ordering the team around or just trying to force yourself into an action.  It leaves flexibility and creativity open as its not a mandatory solution.

Equally important is when a major problem arises, that people don’t feel hesitant to give strong negative feedback. Its better to fix problems as they arise.

The Corrective Actions – What happens if after no matter what you say , how laid back you are during the process, the creative team or yourself keeps missing the mark?

Staying with constructive feedback, perhaps they didn’t understand the brief.  In the case of an individual ,  is the adequate skill-set present to express the aforementioned goals? If not, is there an effort to improve? Perhaps go over the material and have them explain how they understand the goals and parameters for the project. Creative differences could cause an impasse, and the most senior stakeholder may have to diffuse the situation.

Or the other possibility is that the team simply cannot perform the task. Be professional , but you have to consider a change if you aren’t  getting the work you are expecting.



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