Let’s talk about the client and their style of providing feedback. Can it make a difference to the way the entire process of creation plays out? After all, a waltz requires two people stepping in tandem for the dance to look graceful and inviting. The role of the client is as important as that of the creator.

The client is indisputably in a position of power and that makes their willingness to stay neutral and objective even more critical. Taking a macro perspective becomes overwhelmingly important. Imagine an egocentric client who comes across a creator who has conviction and a unique personal voice? The work equation can quickly escalate into an unpleasant face-off. The moment the tone is one of ‘my way or the highway’, the foundation is set for an unhappy collaboration. This often results in a compromised show because the maker decides to back off and assign it to someone more diplomatic in their team and simply focus on the profit rather than the content.

However, a client that totally buys into the idea, shows faith in the creator and works with them to build a show that is true to its core, is a dream. This equation is possible when there is mutual respect. A tension of ideas is essential to keep the show on track. Disagreements are handled maturely when the project is the goal, quality and creativity remain the focus and the role of the client is that of a facilitator, a mirror and a sounding board. The nature of work transforms into a spirit of collaboration and the process becomes enjoyable for everyone. Hurdles are seen from the lens of solution rather than a problem and the journey becomes infinitely more enjoyable.

So what can a client do from their end to make the creative process easier?

  1. Get rid of the formidable and imposing desk between the client and the creator that underlines the power structure. Make the seating more casual. Make yourself approachable.
  2. Build an environment of trust. The weight of trust and living up to it is far more effective than ultimatums and is less stressful for both.
  3. Define and articulate a vision that excites the creator. Imagine you are the coach of a sports team and your job is to help the players visualise success and be a part of a creation that focuses their attention on high engagement, commitment and pride.
  4. Ensure that the team you deploy from within your organisation on the project is not indulging in power play.
  5. Allow the creator and team to move forward while keeping you informed. Do not make it a bureaucratic process that breaks momentum and flow.
  6. Drop the micro management. Cannot say this enough. The temptation to brand the project with your personal stamp may be tempting but in the larger scheme of things there is a likelihood of monotony and predictability across the entire slate. We all have our prejudices and apperceptive backgrounds and they reflect in the things we create. Allow for diverse points of view. It will help build variety.
  7. Irrational deadlines and ego are the enemies of creative collaboration. Listen actively. Keep the focus on deliverables and deadlines but be fair to the final outcome.
  8. Tough love is a difficult balancing act when working towards specific goals and more so on a creative assignment where sensitivities and opinions become subjective. Try and step back for a more objective stance.

Power play and hierarchy are viewed with less tolerance in current times. To outsource work requires people management skills, a keen sense of creative judgement, the ability to be transparent and fair, to take a hard stand when necessary and never lose sight of the ultimate and larger goal.

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