Agencies as businesses are known for the chaos which ensues when everyone works on multiple projects and teams and clients and at any given moment, demands come in multiples, and there’s nothing linear about the delivery, deadlines and priorities can change – a naturally-occurring chaotic organisation. And it’s this very chaos that makes agencies fun, exciting and attracts problem solving people who want to make breakthrough ideas. Some may say, “great creativity forms in chaos”. The people sitting next to those people, also say, “this chaos is driving me crazy”.
I’ve been the ultimate purveyor of chaos at one point, running two digital agencies, whilst pouring my heart into philanthropic work with the NGOs like OzHarvest and Global Citizen, plus solo parenting two little kids. On reflection, I had set my life up like that, probably so I didn’t have to feel things. Being stupidity busy shields us from the feels but usually kills creativity, and intimacy too. I was an overachieving numpty, at times driven by fear of not mattering and ironically drawn away from what mattered to me the most.
It’s hard to be fully creative without structure and constraint, imagine trying to paint without a canvas? Want freedom? Get organised. Want to get organised? Get creative. Which means that while agencies have to be agile, they also have to find some discipline and structure to balance things out. But how do agencies find the best balance between creativity and structure? Who are the superstars within the agencies, who bring structure to any project? Who takes care of the priorities and workflow, allowing the creative people to focus on dreaming up ideas?
In our agency we developed a very well documented Process Bible where we mapped out everything from before you entered our building, to understanding clients, when and how we communicated, how to develop the best brief, approaches to research, where and when strategy meets creative development, how to pitch and present, contracting, invoicing, post campaign reports, feedback loops. A detailed written process, was the foundation for more freedom for our strategic and creative teams to enjoy spending time in the clouds, dreaming about what’s possible. Who doesn’t enjoy dreaming what’s possible?
“Forget about goals, focus on systems instead. Your commitment to the process will determine your progress Winners and losers have the same goals, but different systems. You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems…”James Clear, Atomic Habits
Since finishing up running agencies, I’ve carried this into my personal life, living by Georgia Frantizs’s ethos: “if it’s not in your calendar, it’s not in your life”.
So everything in my life is scheduled: starting each morning with the “WIN THE DAY” practice. I schedule goal setting, goal reviews, practicing self-fullness, meals, grocery shopping, reading, researching, writing, Compadres meetings, time with family, date nights and weekends with Fiancé (months in advance), time adventuring.
I wake at 4:30am, coffee, review and reflect on life and the day ahead, get the kids to school, work for 4-5 hours, exercising for 2-3 hours (always listening to books and thinking of new possibilities for my family, my friends and my Compadres), before getting back into parent mode, more work, then flake out (books and podcasts), and bed.
I love being busy, but I love nurturing #goodvibes more, so I’m optimising via scheduling daily, even enough time for good bits. A place where productivity meets peace and therefore creativity.
Five by Clive
- There’s freedom in structure.
- Creativity comes when there’s time and space to explore.
- Document the process – that way you’re ready to grow quickly, or replace great talent that moves on.
- Teamwork makes the dream work – a star performer needs the support of the whole team to have the time, inputs and financials to go after the big, interesting problems.
- Experiment to find your own perfect balance of productivity and peace.
Please get in touch if you want help optimising your life.
Your Compadre, Clive.