Artisan Blog

4 Tips for Better Brainstorming

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

 


While generating fresh ideas requires limber and liberated thought, there is more to consider than the standard group brainstorming techniques.

The most productive and galvanizing idea generating sessions are guided by qualified facilitators applying best practices under the right conditions. According to one study, brainstorming sessions that meet these guidelines can generate more than four times the number of useful ideas than those that don't.

While there's no substitute for a group brainstorming session led by a trained professional, if you know and apply the following best practices, you will likely get more out of your brainstorming session, making it a more satisfying experience for your group and a more fruitful pursuit for an organization.

Establish Ground Rules

Make sure all participants understand what a brainstorming session involves, and don’t get caught up in problem solving. Add ground rules that best reflect your group and culture and set expectations ahead of time.

Set the Setting

Make sure all participants have the opportunity to plan ahead for the session and think about the key questions and issues in advance. Allow space for solo thinking ahead of time to enable members to contribute freely, avoid groupthink and generate a larger number of ideas.

The session itself should take place in a quiet and comfortable place, free of the normal workday distractions. Some organizations rent off-site rooms (such as those available in co-working spaces). A change of scenery may help shake up established assumptions and patterns of thought.

Ask the Right Questions

To be useful, brainstorming must be more than a group of people talking. To borrow from Proust, the right questions, games, and structure can inspire participants to ideate "like good poets whom the tyranny of rhyme forces into the discovery of their finest lines."

This excellent piece offers a menu of structured brainstorming exercises that may help generate more productive thinking and discussion. The most important factor for success is to build the session around a powerful central question. According to the research of Flow author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the brightest thinking is prompted by the strongest questions. Create a central question or theme that best describes the issue you are brainstorming around.

Write First, Talk Second

In a piece for Fast Company, Rebecca Greenfield recommends that much of the mental action take place before the group convenes. All participants submit their ideas in advance, which can then be made anonymous and put to a group vote. This mitigates the influence of more dominant and vocal personalities, empowering everyone to contribute more and establishing a "meritocracy of ideas."

At the least, the session should be set up and run in such a way that constructive criticism is encouraged and the loudest voices don't dominate the exchange. This requires rigorous adherence to time limits and other rules, and a pervasive atmosphere of mutual respect. This can be a delicate balance to establish and maintain.

Each organization is different. Its particular decision-making criteria will factor into whether or not actionable ideas emerge from brainstorming. Thus, leading a productive brainstorming session can take some trial and error, but the investment will pay off in greater satisfaction, innovation, and organizational cohesion.

 

Artisan Creative's a.team is here to help you build your dream team. Contact us today for assistance with your hiring needs.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 436th issue of our weekly a.blog.



Understanding Team Dynamics

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


As hiring managers, we have to think about our existing team dynamics each time we add a new team member.

Our new hires will need to be fully integrated into our existing team structure—and the success or failure of that integration depends on our orientation and on-boarding best practices, our timing, and the team’s group performance requirements.

Additional considerations range from current interpersonal team structure to culture and skills level of the current team.

What type of environment are we adding the new person into and what is our goal? Are we looking for someone to strengthen missing skills, to complement the current thinking, or to challenge the team and take their performance to the next level?

In 1965, Dr. Bruce Tuckman introduced the team-development model of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.

It’s an interesting study based on recognizing where your current team is, and what happens as a new member is added.

In this example, we’ll use a marketing team to demonstrate.

Forming

In the marketing team’s forming stage, the Marketing Manager or Director will be very hands-on to set the tone for team, establish direction, set individual roles and responsibilities and provide overall vision and guidance.

The Marketing Manager must be prepared to manage every aspect of decision making, and answer questions about the team's goals and objectives, as well as set expectations internally and with external stakeholders.

At this stage, the team tends to avoid conflict or push boundaries. The team is just in the process of forming—and there are more individual thinkers operating in silos.

This is a perfect opportunity for individuals to get to know the strengths of one another, create friendships, and align in order to move from silo-ed thinkers towards a larger team mentality.

Storming

In the storming phase, the team may not be in total agreement or come to consensus quickly. Individual members may try to find their own voice within the group and establish presence. There may be some challenges and conflict—this is OK! Breaking paradigms and new ideas can emerge here, and the team has the ability to grow. The Marketing Manager guides the team through this stage, allowing the team to confront their diversity of thought, and ensuring that challenges or drama don’t derail the team’s success.

Norming

In the norming phase, the new team starts to hit its stride. There is harmony, and synergy amongst the group and the Marketing Manager moves to be more of a facilitator than a hands-on implementer. The team is aware of responsibilities, and natural leaders develop within the group to handle simpler decision making on their own.

There is commitment, strong workflow, good discussions as well as building friendships amongst teammates.

Performing

In the performing phase, the team is high-functioning with a shared strategic plan.The vision is clear, and the team knows its purpose and its why.The team is focused, and clear on goals, takes responsibility for achieving them, and makes most of their decisions against criteria agreed upon with the leader.

The team has a high degree of independence, and can delegate tasks internally. They can resolve internal conflicts as they come up, and have strong interpersonal relationships.

The Manager moves into more of a coaching role and can assist with growth and development, as they are no longer being called upon to manage day-to-day tasks. However, it remains important for the manager to ensure the team is still being innovative and not falling into complacency of thought, or group think.

Sharing the knowledge of the concept of "Team development” can be helpful to a team—especially in the storming phase.

As you look to add to your teams, dissolve project teams, or move team members to other groups, it’s a good idea to be aware of the overall team dynamics and recognize what stage the group is in. It will certainly play an integral part into your orientation and onboarding practices.

Artisan Creative's a.team is here to help you build your dream team. Contact us today for assistance with your hiring needs.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 435th issue of our weekly a.blog.


Agency vs. In-House: Which Is Right For You?

Tuesday, March 07, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 415th issue of our weekly a.blog.

In order to thrive as a creative professional, start by seeking the right teams and culture that best match you. Whether you pursue a variety of freelance roles with different companies or decide to take on a full-time job, you’ll have the choice of working with in-house creative teams or as part of a creative agency. Either option carries the potential for learning, growth, and professional fulfillment, yet they have distinct differences.

Is #AgencyLife the Life for You?

A creative agency is a service-based business that works for a variety of clients and brands. These teams of creative professionals tackle different projects for multiple clients. Many agencies have their own distinguishing approaches and values, and some are famous for the distinctive flair they bring to their work.

If you work for an agency, you may work on the agency multiple brands. You may have the opportunity to be in a client-facing role and pitch your team’s ideas to influencers and executives. Even if you don’t attend client meetings, your work will depend on the client’s specifications and feedback, and mutual respect is the key to a productive relationship.

The best agencies have an electric creative atmosphere that has influenced pop culture, launched online communities and real-life meetup groups such as 99u and Creative Mornings, and inspired the Twitter hashtag #AgencyLife. For many creatives, working for the right agency is a professional dream come true.

Finding a Home In-House

Many large and small companies have their own creative teams, consisting of design and marketing talent. If you're a professional who wants to be part of an established company, or to work and grow one brand consistently, you may want to consider working with an in-house team.

Depending on the size of your company, you may interface with a variety of internal & external stakeholders or work on a range of collateral that includes B2B and B2C deliverables. You can build great rapport with the brand over the years on a variety of different projects and become an expert in a specific vertical.

You should consider joining an in-house squad if the values of a particular brand align well with your own. Working through the years on perfecting one brand’s messaging can bring great personal satisfaction if it’s a brand you truly believe in.

At Artisan Creative, we have worked with many creative professionals, and we've helped them figure out what settings are most in sync with their skills and goals. Get in touch and we'll share our expertise.




Tips for Reviewing a Design Portfolio

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 408th issue of our weekly a.blog.

When reviewing a design portfolio, it may seem easy to spot a good portfolio, however when you start to study the details to truly understand how the work was created, the layers can become quite complex.

We asked our team of specialized creative recruiters to share their insight on how to successfully review a design portfolio. Their feedback is below.

Site Navigation

How easy is it to navigate the site? When finding your way around a portfolio (assuming it’s a personal portfolio site and not a Behance or Dribbble) think about how you are navigating through each page. What is your user experience? Do you have to click many links just to get the samples? Does the designer show consistency through the layout of their projects?

Thinking Process

What is the thought process behind the presented work? We love when designers break down a project and show various components of a piece, instead of just the final result. Case studies are a great way to see the design thinking behind the work. For example,  if you’re reviewing a portfolio for a branding designer look for logo explorations, type treatments, color applications, identity systems as well as the final product. If it’s a UX portfolio it’s helpful to see UX research, user personas and prototypes so you can see the methodology behind the final product and understand what design problem was solved. Designers are problem solvers by nature and should treat their portfolio in the same manner.

Project Involvement

Clarity on project involvement is crucial to knowing whether the skills listed on a resume match the work presented. Each project should give a clear indication of the designer’s involvement. If there is no mention of project involvement and you choose to progress to an interview ensure that you find out what their involvement was in each project.  More tips on the interview process can be found on our blog How to Hire Creatives.

Aesthetics

Art is subjective—be clear about the visual aesthetic or branding your team is looking for. A graphic designer with a highly illustrative, whimsical visual aesthetic and a graphic designer with a very corporate look may both list the same exact design skills on their resume—however their visuals will be vastly different. 

We hope these tips alleviate some challenges in navigating design portfolios. If you need expert help to help build your dream team please contact us the Artisan Creative a.team!



How to Invest in Your Team

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 403rd issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

In the 20+ years of meeting and interviewing talent, we’ve learned that a primary reason people are looking for a career change is often growth opportunity—and growth opportunity does not necessarily mean salary increase.

We hear from talent willing to make a financial lateral move when there is an opportunity for advancement, additional responsibility, learning, and overall personal and career development.

Here are 3 tips to help nurture your existing talent so they are more likely to stay and grow as your organization grows.

Continued Education

Continued education classes are a win-win for both employer and employee. Courses from Lynda.com or General Assembly foster new skills and improve work performance, while giving employees an opportunity to learn and grow. Consider flex time to attend classes or subsidizing a course cost.

Develop Careers From Within

Ongoing training, frequent touch points and an extended on-boarding program helps to start your employees on the right track, and when done regularly, will keep them motivated and better engaged over time.

Encourage opportunities to spearhead a task team, lead a project or mentor a new employee.

Invest in leadership training, management courses and mentorship opportunities with senior level talent.

Encourage lateral movement so employees can formally apply to new positions within the organization.

Invest in Your Employees’ Well-being

Large companies have the luxury of access to features and benefits that small to midsize firms dream of.

If your company is an entrepreneurial boutique firm like Artisan Creative, you will have to be more creative here. Some examples of non-work related investments are subsidizing gym memberships or a wellness program, paying for and rallying around a passionate cause your team believes in, journaling or vision boarding classes.

Another option is to host Lunch & Learn quarterly in the office where you can bring in a subject matter expert on a variety of topics such as Nutrition, Health or even Mindfulness.

At Artisan we wanted to learn how to play to our team member’s strengths and brought in a Strengths Finder facilitator for the day. Not only was this great for personal development and growth, it was also a powerful team bonding and communication experience.

We also offer our an annual stipend to our internal a.team to be used for heath and wellness or personal development. Our team has taken advantage of this stipend for fitness or art classes, Toastmasters, second language courses and personal interest seminars. We also hold an annual vision boarding session to share and focus on non-work related goals and aspirations.

If done right and with purpose, engaged employees have a higher retention rate than those who stare out the window wondering what else is out there and eventually leave for an opportunity to grow personally and professionally elsewhere.

What tools or tips can you share to increase employee engagement and retention?



Reasons for Being Grateful

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you.

 

This is the time of the year to reflect on the past year and look forward to new opportunities and adventures ahead.

As Shawn Achor states in his popular Ted Talk and best-selling book “The Happiness Advantage” one of the ways to create happiness and positive mental change is to express gratitude on a daily basis.

Here at Artisan Creative, we are grateful for so many things and wanted to share a few with you.

We are:

  • Grateful to celebrate 20 years of creative staffing & recruitment.
  • Grateful for the incredible, dynamic a.team. Always giving, always striving to be at their best.
  • Grateful for our amazing talent who continuously push the creative envelope.
  • Grateful for our long lasting client relationships and for the opportunity to help grow their teams.
  • Grateful for our furry 4-legged friends who keep us company at work.
  • Grateful for the opportunity to write the 400th issue of our weekly a.blog today.

Below are additional gratitudes from our a. team:

Laura
  • Grateful for my family and their health, support and love.
  • Grateful to work for a company I love.
  • Grateful that I get to spend every day with my husband.

Stephanie

Grateful that I live in Los Angeles. I'm grateful for my health, home, and to have worked with a great company for 10 years.

Margaret

Thankful for my family and friends, my wonderful husband and my "a" recruiting team who comes ready to work every day and is so dedicated.

Jen

  • Grateful for a supportive and passionate team that pushes me to my full potential every day.
  • Grateful for the ability to work from home.
  • Grateful for my husband who caters to my every pregnancy craving and mood swing.

Regina

I'm so grateful for my job! I am so happy every day.

Ana

I am grateful for my family that supports each other through thick and thin, for my long time friends that are like extended family, for my employers that provide an environment to live a balanced life and for my excellent health!

Cammy
  • I am thankful for the privilege of becoming a new aunt to my amazing nephew.
  • Also my family, everyone's health, and good food!

Jamie

  • Working with a dynamic and committed team on a daily basis for over 20 years.
  • The opportunity to learn something new every day.
  • Simplicity in life and communication.

Katty

  • Grateful for the amazing a. team.
  • Grateful for family, friends, health and love.
  • Grateful to learn and grow every day.

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

 

 





Three Ways Recruitment Agencies Support In-House HR Teams

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


At Artisan Creative we believe in creating relationships based on trust. Our role is simple:

  • Support and complement internal HR and recruitment teams
  • Find the most qualified candidates in the shortest amount of time
  • Act as an extension of your team

This is how we partner:

Experience

Our 20+ years in the creative & digital marketplace has built deep relationships across the industry. Connectedness and enduring working relationships set our search protocols apart.

We have dedicated recruiters assigned to a specific search, and leverage our connections for referrals. We review hundreds of resumes and portfolios to select the best for you. By implementing targeted search plans, we save internal teams hours upon hours of reviewing profiles that may not be right.

We’ll take care of screening & qualifications. We’ll ask the tough interview questions, check references and conduct background checks -- giving you the bandwidth to manage the most valuable resource on your team: the human resource.

Focus

We know how to efficiently handle multiple requisitions across multiple teams and skill sets. The strength we add is our laser-sharp focus on one thing—finding the best candidate for the best company.

Cost

Initially this may seem counter-intuitive, however there is a bigger cost for missing a deadline, losing a client, or a potential burnout of your existing team. The strength we bring to our clients’ internal hiring teams is to find qualified, vetted candidates --whether it's for a quick freelance assignment or a full time hire. We recognize human capital is the most valuable resource of any company.

We’d love to find out more about your needs and share our screening process in detail.

Have the a. team build your dream team! Let’s connect.


How to Hire Creatives

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

 

Hiring qualified talent for creative roles (digital, marketing, UX or design) is an art unto itself.

In addition to reviewing resumes and looking for specific skills or years of experience, reviewing a portfolio and understanding the nuances in a creative’s work requires a unique talent. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Here are 3 tips to consider when looking to hire creative talent and evaluating portfolios.

1. Concept or Execution

Are you looking for a conceptual creative or one who is more executional? A conceptual talent ideates, pushes the creative boundaries, comes up with new ideas, new campaigns and a way to challenge the status quo. This person may or may not have hands-on skills— as they concept and ideate, someone else may actually sit behind a computer to bring it to life and take it to the finish line.

An executional candidate is someone who is very hands-on still. They know all the design programs well, can take the big picture idea and apply it to a variety of formats and deliverables. They’re able to read between the lines, interpret the big idea and execute it across multiple media and channels.

In some instances, one person can have both strengths—or they may favor one over the other. Who do you need on your team?

2. Your Brand

When looking at a resume and comparing two design talent, both may have similar proficiency with design programs, both may have the same years of experience and both may seem like the ideal candidate…on paper. When reviewing creative talent, a portfolio must accompany the resume, and in many cases it holds more weight than the resume.

When you review portfolio links, you may notice one designer’s aesthetic is bright, colorful, fun and illustrative, while the other candidate is minimalistic and corporate with a clean UI design aesthetic.

Both are beautiful, which aesthetic fits best within your company brand?

3. The Portfolio and to How Navigate it

When reviewing a portfolio, it can be difficult to get the full picture. Designers often work in collaboration with others: art directors, illustrators, copywriters, production artists, developers and many other talented teammates

How can you best tell who was involved in the work you are reviewing?

If the information isn't clearly defined in the sample, ask for clarification to help you get the full picture.

Do you need help hiring creative talent? Connect with us.


One-Two-One Onboarding

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Best Practices for onboarding new hires and making them feel welcome


Agency vs. Client Side

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Agency vs. Client Side

 

For many people, there comes a time in your career when you start considering what it would be like to work on the other side. There’s no right answer: agency life can often involve long hours and multiple clients, but it can also be very rewarding. Perhaps working for a brand is more suited to you if you like to specialize in one area and take ownership? Many of our candidates talk about their desires to work for the other team so what better way to help you make the decision than by comparing them side by side.

What’s it like to work at an agency?
Agency life can often have a reputation for long days and hard work, but on the upside you get to flex your creativity and have exposure to many different accounts and brands. You can be working on a last minute project one day then quickly switch gears onto a pitch or something entirely different the next. Multitasking is king so you must be switched on and ready to take anything thrown your way.

For designers, an agency is a perfect way to build your portfolio. You can show a breadth of work with multiple brands while proving to future hiring managers you have what it takes to survive in a fast-paced and deadline-driven environment. This rings true for those in marketing, client services or similar verticals.  Being exposed to many different brands also means you will qualify for more jobs in the future so think about where you want to be in 5-10 years and make sure your current responsibilities are in alignment with your future goals.

What’s it like to work client side?
Unlike agency life which can be very seasonal, workflow in-house is often more stable and predictable. Projects are usually repeated (and improved upon) each year so you know what to expect and when. There’s also a sense of brand familiarity. You will live and breathe one brand and their message so you can become specialized in their area, such as CPG or technology. There’s also the added job security -- agencies are reliant upon business from their clients; if one client leaves it can put jobs at risk. We’re not saying that layoffs don’t happen for in-house companies because sadly they do, but it can be less of a concern.

In the end, it comes down to what you want to get out of your career. If you like high energy and a variety of work, perhaps the agency world is where you will thrive, but if you feel you want brand familiarity, it could be time to look at client side.

Have you worked on both sides before? How did the experiences differ? Share your thoughts and experiences with us on Twitter @artisanupdates.

 Laura Pell - Recruiter at Artisan Creative



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