December 22, 2018

What a great idea

Reading time: 2 minutes

Too bad I thought of it.

A duotoned dark purple and beige version of the Apple emoji of a light bulb, in front of a light blue starburst shape

Juggling clients and your team is a huge part of being a producer. There are lots of things to keep in mind, and lots of ways to get the best out of both of them – open, honest communication; some quality bonding time, some creative budget wrestling.

This is post is not about those things. Let’s talk about an underhanded way to make people do what you need them to do: let them think it’s their idea.

Everyone has lots of ideas. Most people think their ideas are the best. As a producer, you are in the unique position of (hopefully) knowing what both your clients, and your team, really need. How to bring everyone onto the same page? Let your client think they thought of the miracle solution. They didn’t. You did. This approach requires some serious pride swallowing, and is only sometimes worth it. Proceed with caution.

How do you do it? Drip feed.

Consider your solution. Now cut it up. Example – you’re working to a deadline, but you suspect it’s self imposed by the client, and there is more wiggle room than they are letting on. Push back on your client indirectly. Psychology shows that there’s a link between the real, and what we can easily picture to be real in our minds – so if your client can visualise it, you are on the way to making it happen.

If statements are your friend, as are specifics. Your client is likely very close to the product in question, so expanding on what the product can do, or look like, probably isn’t much of a leap.

“We would love to spend more time on design, to get that home page looking more retro, but the deadline is too tight”

“We could have [insert great feature, if we weren’t so time constrained. How about we limit it for the MVP?”

These carry you either way – if the timing doesn’t get extended, you’ve been clear and honest with your client about their expectations. But the subtle phrasing also emphasises that they could have more. It’s basically the FOMO premise. Clients always want more, you’re merely offering it to them. Once you have a sip of Champagne, of course you want the bottle. Did I just compare my company’s digital offerings to wine? Yes. Anyway, remember to act surprised when the launch date gets pushed back!

Inside your team, it’s a little different. You probably have a much better relationship with your colleagues, and it’s always really important to listen to them. In this example above, I would keep everyone in the loop on the deadline. Have some conversations with your teammates about what they can realistically do in the time frame provided. Don’t rely on getting an extension, ever. Maybe don’t even mention that you think it’s a possibility. To keep everyone’s creative juices flowing, say you are hoping for a second round of development where things will be finessed and fine tuned. And hopefully, there will be.

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Lilith Palmer

Cat mumma, coffee lover, digital producer (in that order). See what else I've written here.

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