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Why Even Creative Brains Need Processes (& Data)

Posted January 5, 2023
Why Even Creative Brains Need Processes (& Data)

Adi Klevit, Process Consultant, CEO, & Founder of Business Success Consulting Group, joins our host, Camela Thompson, in this episode of the Revenue Marketing Report. Adi shares her insights on why even creative individuals need processes, the systems people need in place to successfully implement processes, and where data fits into that picture.

Besides hosting the Systems Simplified podcast, Adi is also a Process Consultant. She and her team help small to medium-sized businesses create, document and implement business processes and procedures. At the beginning of this chat, Adi explained why even creative people require processes.

On your podcast Systems Simplified, we discussed why visionaries and creative people need processes. I’d love to kick off this episode with your perspective. Can you give a few examples of where even the most creative marketers out there could benefit from processes?

“The first thing that I like to start with is the why and actually ask why processes are important. And if creative individuals or other people you’re asking don’t have an answer, then start asking specific questions like what is your onboarding like? How do you cross train other team members on your scope of work? What happens if you want to take a vacation? Do you find yourself repeating and doing things over and over again that basically hurts your efficiency or productivity? As opposed to being able to be more concentrated on creativity by having well-documented processes and procedures that you can actually duplicate. What about if you decide to sell your company one day or you decide you’re going to get promoted? If you are working somewhere in a company, what will happen to your work? How will you be able to pass it to someone else? So there are lots of reasons why processes and procedures are important. 

“But you’ve got to start with asking that question. It’s not really a “hit-by-bus scenario.” It’s also looking at all things that you don’t necessarily like to do. For instance, suppose you’re creative. You do social media. You love coming up with ideas for what we are going to post. You already have in mind the pictures, the colors, the copy, whatever it is. But you still need to do those actions over and over in terms of whether it’s going to be getting approval from the team or from the client. It might be like the uploading itself. It might be the hiring of the photographer or the production team. All of those things are repetitive things. What if you had a checklist or a specific process to follow? Those will always go smoothly, and you can now spend more time creating.”

Why Even Creative Brains Need Processes (& Data)

What systems do people need in place to implement a process?

Adi talked at length about the sorts of systems creative marketers need in place before approving a process.

“I try not to be specific just because it really depends on our listeners. I would answer it with a question: What are you doing that is repetitive? Take a look at all the repetitive things that you’re doing that you might forget or maybe that you don’t like to do and want to pass to somebody else. Or maybe there are tasks that you’re not doing  as frequently and  so you forget how to do it.

“Just before the show, I was on a Zoom call with a client and we decided we are going to record a video for her future self a year from now. So before she’s going to go and do that process a year from now, she’s going to listen to what happened and that this is how she did it. That way, she doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel and think, oh, how did I do it? What did I do? What’s the next step? But she will be able to learn and put it together and then just be very efficient in how she does that. Therefore, that’s an answer in terms of oh I need to create. You decide what processes you need to create a checklist or write a document for, right?

“It doesn’t have to be every single process, but you know what those are. Even how to schedule a call with a customer or let’s say you are sending an update to a client, what should they be updated on? Why not create a template and create instructions on how to fill out that template? Then, you know exactly what data you need, where to find it etc., and that will make your life easier.”

There’s a lot to like about what Adi just said. First, she points out that it’s not just the things we do on an infrequent basis that we have a hard time remembering how to do. I’d also like to call out that when we are hiring somebody who is new to our industry, our space,  we often assume a lot including that the in-house knowledge that we have acquired over the years is innate and just instinctual.

“So if somebody’s just starting, it will be good actually to get an overall orientation about the position. What is exactly the purpose? What’s the mission of what you’re doing? How are you measuring success? Here are some aspects of how you do that. We are working with a client right now in the medical billing industry. I know that’s not very creative. But you have to use your judgment and you have to know things and be able to be very familiar in order to do a good job. Because you have to negotiate etc.  However, there are some basic things like definitions. What technology are we using? How do you use that technology? What’s a day in the life? What does that day look like? What is basically your checklist for the day? What is your routine, etc.. So you can actually learn the art of negotiation if you would learn how to differentiate between different insurance coverage and so on. But you at least have a framework in place.”

I love how Adi pointed out that self-awareness does play a part here because we tend to avoid the things we don’t like doing and that can be problematic. So when you’re asking yourself what kind of systems you need, maybe you do well with email reminders or maybe you need a popup or the ability to send drafts and have people comment on them. All of these things need to be taken into consideration. Adi agrees.

“There’s no black and white. That’s the thing I think prevents creative people from wanting or even considering systems and processes because they feel like it’s all black and white. There’s no other way. That’s the way it is. However, I don’t necessarily think so. If you were an engineering firm, there are very specific ways of how you’re going to go from point A to point  B and everything has to be documented. There are definitely regulated procedures and they should be documented and be the same. But the more creative the activity, the less it has to be that way. 

“What my point is to document what works for you. It doesn’t mean what works for your work, from another marketing agency or another marketing department will work at a different company. It’s whatever works for you. You create your own systems for your own benefit. I think if you look at it from that viewpoint, where it’s not forced, it will be easier to do.”

Where does data fit into implementing processes?

Adi talked briefly about the role data plays in implementing processes.

“The processes should be attached to a KPI, a metric, or a success indicator. Then, you can evaluate whether the process is working or not. And it can be like also evaluating data. What do you have to battle next? Where do you actually need more people? Or maybe, you’re overstaffed in some areas, where are you spending a lot of your time? You should consider automating those tasks. If you write a process then you will have multiple points of data entry, then it’s really like you should look at automating it and ensuring that you’re not wasting your time on unnecessary actions.”

For more expert interviews and advice, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.