“This is how it has always been done,” “Don’t fix what ain’t broken,” – after years in the industry, it’s common to see editors, artworkers, and operators putting aside their curiosity and getting set in their ways. This is a serious problem, because now, more than ever, agencies and studios need to be able to flexibly adapt to a rapidly changing world.
Flexible internal work processes will be critical in order for agencies and studios to effectively adapt to the changes and disruptions in the market. Yet over the years, studios tend to develop a sort of risk aversion.
Consumed by the day-to-day rush to just get the job done, staff bunker down on standardised processes. It is left to the studio manager or operations director to push through changes and improvements from the top down.
According to Scott Blakemore, a Qualified Lean Project Leader and Principal at Lean implementation consultancy firm Blakemoresource, adopting Continuous Improvement principles can help ensure efficiency and improve staff engagement with their work.
Changing for the better
Studio operators, artworkers, and editors, being at the frontlines of production, have unparalleled insight into the things that affect their ability to deliver quality work in the shortest time possible. They know what the daily frustrations, interruptions and distractions are, and so they have detailed insight into what practical improvements need to be made.
“Lean is essentially about people,” explains Scott. “[It’s about] creating an environment where they can take action to continuously improve themselves…[and] recognizing that those best able to fix problems in business are those at the source of where the process occurs.”
At the heart of it, Continuous Improvement is an organic process. The agency encourages workers to think critically about the processes they are doing, rather than engage in rote repetition. Because of this, any improvements will be:
- Small and incremental changes, which are fast and easy to implement, with little or no downtime required for training
- Practical changes from the operators’ point of view, meaning less resistance to the changes
- Low cost, because there is no need to bring in researchers, consultants or R&D
- Constantly evolving, as operators are encouraged to continually seek ways to improve their own performance
But it’s not enough to simply attempt to leverage “the wisdom of the crowd.” How can you ensure that the staff suggestions will actually work? There’s also a risk that what they propose only improves their own work, but cause problems up and/or down the line.
This is because in traditional management structures, the front-line staff do not have the necessary insight into how their work fits into the entire process. They are just the little cogs spinning on their own, isolated from the big picture.
So any effort to implement Continuous Improvement needs to start with fundamental changes in the way front line artworkers and operators are managed, providing them with more responsibility, and better insight into not just their own jobs, but what goes on in the project or organisation outside of what they do. Big-picture insight should no longer be the realm of managers.
You can do this by:
- Building measurement into day-to-day activities, provide staff with the right insight at the right time.
- Give staff the authority to make decisions and changes autonomously to flexibly and quickly respond to issues.
- Encourage up-skilling, not just in operational or production skills, but also across broader tasks that would traditionally be handled by managers.
- Keep staff informed of the agency’s wider profit and revenue goals, and the metrics around them, so they can see how what they do impacts on the bottom line.
- Promote cross-roles and cross-departmental understanding, so operators can build a picture of the overall work process and the links between their own tasks and the tasks performed their counterparts in other departments.
Implementing a culture of continuous improvement will allow agencies and studios to leverage the expert knowledge of their staff to improve efficiencies, but this must be backed up by a management style that enables operators to gain better insight into the big picture.
To learn more about building an agency or production house with Lean methodology, and the steps you can take to implement these changes, download the free eBook, Lean for Advertising Agencies and Production Houses.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: How Studios Can Build A Culture Of Curiosity And Continuous Improvement
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