When building websites, or really any kind of marketing deliverable, we have to strike an interesting balance.
On the one hand, we have a tight scope of work and a clear directive on what needs to happen.
On the other hand, we’re not always sure exactly what that looks like. If someone needs a new logo, we understand the why and the how, but at the start we have no idea how the new logo will look, which is the beauty of the process.
In his book “Every Tool’s a Hammer“, author Adam Savage mentions a conversation with filmmaker Guillermo del Toro that I think summarizes this tension perfectly:
“How is it possible to manage a group of dozens of artists to keep to a cohesive vision? At dinner that night I asked Guillermo how he did it. “You have to give everyone complete autonomy within a narrow bandwidth,” he replied. What he meant was that after you get their buy-in on the larger vision, you need to strictly define their roles in the fulfillment of that vision, and then you need to set them free to do their thing. You want the people helping you to be energized and involved; you want them contributing their creativity, not just following your orders. Giving them creative autonomy rewards their individual genius while keeping them oriented to the North Star of your larger shared vision.”
It’s similar to something that David Marquet shared in “Turn the Ship Around“:
“The problem with specifying the method along with the goal is one of diminished control. Provide your people with the objective and let them figure out the method.”
The statement from Adam gave me pause, as it so accurately summarized how we do our work at GreenMellen. Ali and I set the overall scope, Brooke directs the path as the project manager, but then each creative (messaging, design and development, among others) is free to “do their thing”. They know the goal we’re trying to achieve, and they are all experts in their own area with the best idea of how to make sure their part of the project hits that final goal.
Guillermo wants to make sure that they stay “energized and involved”, which is certainly important, but I see a bigger piece of it being a matter of expertise. It would be ridiculous for me to suggest that Elena use a different font or that Ashlea work through a development issue in a different way. They’re far wiser than me in their respective crafts, which I’m exceptionally grateful for.
Being able to set them free, within the bounds of the overall project, is a great thing indeed.