Many organisations need to work with numerous creative partners. The success of my roster-building and knowledge-sharing process has been well documented in the design press. It’s a process that is led by the needs of each client, but the underlying principles are the same: to spread best practice, improve efficiencies and raise the profile and quality of creativity across an organisation.
Choosing the right creative partner and managing the relationship effectively is such a vital aspect of any design or communications project. I’ve been involved in the process many times, on both the client and agency side. I know the agency world and can seek out good matches, both in terms of expertise and personal chemistry. I also understand how to manage the pitching process, make the final selection, handle the briefing stage, direct the relationship and evaluate its success.
Successful change in business often filters down from the top, so it’s important to invest in those people. As well as benefiting the individual, coaching leads to greater staff retention, increased motivation and enhanced productivity. I work with CEOs, boards of directors, heads of department and project managers from FTSE 100 companies, charity and government organisations, as well as leaders from the creative industries.
It’s difficult to get honest client feedback when the process is handled by an internal resource. A third party brings objectivity and can help unearth the valuable nuggets of truth. My preference is to conduct client feedback through face-to-face interviews, before analysing the information, identifying recurring themes and recommending ways forward. The process leads to direct improvements in performance and business retention and sends out important signals to clients, representing a serious investment in the relationship.
When an organisation invests in a brand, a significant return has to be realised. I have extensive experience working at a brand management level, including senior in-house roles at Barclays and HM Revenue & Customs. This involves making sure the right processes and systems are in place to monitor and improve performance, as well as motivating and managing internal marketing and creative teams to become effective brand guardians.
Systems & practices
Problems within an organisation can often be traced back to an issue of process: once it is resolved, the effect on productivity and morale can be immediate. I build an understanding of working systems and practices by interviewing everyone involved in or affected by them. I then analyse strengths and weaknesses, propose improvements and manage the changes required.
There are great benefits in seeking an outside perspective when it comes to assessing, recruiting and managing staff. I have been asked to tackle this on behalf of large organisations and smaller businesses. In each case, I draw on my personal experience of recruiting and managing large teams of people, as well as the insight that comes from my background in psychotherapy.
While much of my work has a design and branding dimension, it frequently extends to wider business analysis. I have been asked to examine the details of an organisation’s structure and resources, assess strengths and weaknesses, and identify areas for improvement. I also have extensive experience in producing corporate, marketing and communications plans that arise from this process of analysis and help companies deliver more effectively against their mission and vision.
Communicating with internal and external audiences is a specialist discipline that needs skilful project management. Much of my consultancy work has involved supporting marketing teams in defining the strategy, agreeing the media, content, schedules, responsibilities and budgets, and then managing the implementation.
Some clients may not have sufficient in-house resources or expertise to handle a particular project. I have managed design programmes on both the client and agency side, covering a wide range of media and markets. I’m experienced in liaising with board directors, operating companies, marketing departments, finance departments, creative teams, legal and regulatory authorities – as well as managing large budgets and handling the practical complexities of production.
A skilled, motivated, valued team is a necessary asset to any organisation. I’m frequently asked to work with teams to build on their existing skills, focusing on areas such as strategic thinking, leadership, planning, implementation, delegation, project management, time management, presentation skills and client relationships. I find my experience in handling group dynamics is useful when it comes to developing team integration and enabling people to perform at their best.
I have designed and managed workshops extensively in a business context, as well as running groups as a psychotherapist, so I understand the complex dynamics involved. It’s always important to set clear objectives, keep parties focused, ensure the outcomes are clearly identified, and be alert to the political and personal sensitivities that could affect the result.
I offer support and training to people with responsibility for commissioning and managing design, not all of whom may have a direct background in that area. I run seminars on how to commission design effectively and tutor individuals and teams in order to demystify the various stages, such as writing a brief, choosing the right agency, assessing work against requirements, feeding back effectively, and managing implementation.