Process is a Change, Not an Event

Start with a creative roadmap: Always start a new project by defining the goal you are aiming to achieve and the assets that will realize that goal. What do you want to say? Who do you want to say it to? What action do you want them to take as a result? Consensus on these seemingly very basic items is crucial. Write it down. Send it to everyone with a stake and always, always, always get written buy-in before moving forward.
Define the approval process: You now have an awesome new set of creative assets in development. You are ready to print in a trade magazine, post online, and send directly to a potential customer. Before you do, you better agree in advance who needs to approve it. The product manager? The corporate brand steward? The legal department? Know the order that will deliver the greatest efficiency. Start with the person most likely to have the most changes!
Debrief and improve: This step is the most likely to be overlooked. (Shameful, guilty feelings being experienced as I type. Practice what you preach, Karen!). At the conclusion of a significant campaign… when all the ads have been sent, email campaigns programmed for dissemination, banner ads linked to tracking URLs, 3-D mailers packaged for shipping…. schedule a one-hour sit down to both congratulate yourselves (Friday over a beer is not a bad idea) and evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Consider whether we followed process where feasible and did the process work or breakdown? How can we improve for next time? What would each team member do differently if they had it to do over? Best lesson learned? Hardest lesson learned? Then get ready to do it all again.

Projects can get chaotic. Bring order to chaos. Add process. You’ll create efficiency, better showcase your creativity, and realize your goals.