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How to promote innovation and creativity with optimized workflows

Jul 08, 2020

While research shows that 80% of people see creative potential as key to success, only 25% feel that they have discovered their own creative potentialWhile automation, AI and other technologies are taking over a lot of repetitive, operational tasks, the demand for uniquely human skills, like innovativeness and creativity, is growing.  

Business workflows or processes don’t exactly scream creativity. In fact, many say that they are the opposite of creativity and innovation. Processes are standardized steps of completing a task or a project together. They ensure continuity and consistency and are absolutely necessary for most businesses. Creativity, also vital for a business, requires doing things differently and thinking outside the box. How can we combine these two? 

While these concepts can seem mutually exclusive at first, there are ways to implement processes and workflows that support innovation. Instead of seeing these two as opposites, processes can provide a framework for creativity, reducing the time spent on administrative tasks that are necessary for business operations. And as we found out in another article, having time is a huge factor for creativity. 

Clear timelines and task division 

The first step to improving your company’s processes is making sure that they are as clear and easy to understand as possible. We’ve seen that many companies list the steps that need to be completed in a process but there are no deadlines or instructions for distribution of work.  

To achieve maximum efficiency in performing a task that is translated into a process, your colleagues need to know what to expect. Lack of deadlines and distribution slows things down because people don’t know who is supposed to be doing what and when. This leads to stress and takes valuable time away from other, more creative work. 

Automate it 

When you are auditing your organization’s processes, try to find steps or entire flows that could be automated. It’s likely that some processes were created years ago, and they were never evaluated since. Technology has taken leaps forward and a lot of automation tools can speed up work that we had to do manually in the past. 

What are your goals? 

Often, we add steps to our workflows because it’s easier than risking leaving out something that turns out to be critical. Better safe than sorry, right? Unfortunately, this mentality amounts to a lot of time spent on the unnecessary. A good way to find out which steps are essential or bring value, is asking what the goal of each step is, what is it trying to achieve? 

A common, often unnecessary additions are the so called review stepsFor example, the marketing coordinators create deliverables that are then checked by the marketing manager. Next, designers give some additional input and finally the Head of Creative checks the finished product.  

More often than not, these steps create bottlenecks and add no value. Is it necessary that every standard ad copy is checked by two different managers who are already terribly busy? Probably not. It’s also likely that these managers trust their employees and don’t do a thorough review of the work they need to check. In this case, these steps are even more pointless.  

Train and take feedback 

Once your workflows are clear, user-friendly, and have the minimum amount of steps that it takes to get a task done, make sure that all your colleagues are onboard. Accept feedback and understand that in every organization, there are people who have difficulties following set protocols 

Train people to understand why following the correct steps is so important, before you drill down on what the steps are. Especially creatives often see workflows as limiting to their preferred way of workingTo make a process work, everyone needs to accept and follow them or there is no point in having them in the first place. 

Easy accessibility 

Finally, check that everyone in your company knows where your process documents are, and that they are not hidden in a complex folder structure. If finding the right workflow takes too much time for the end users, they are simply not going to do it.  

If you work with a lot of different types of processes for multiple access levels, you should look at using a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system that enables you and all your colleagues to quickly and safely find, access and share digital assets like process documents, images and presentations. 

A DAM solution like Lytho can save up to 70% of time that now goes into trying to find the right resource. Check out this white paper on Improving your Marketing with DAM if you are interested in finding out more. 

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