Meetingitus & Walt Disney

Nothing cripples the creative process more than meetings. Sure we need structure but booking meetings about the meeting before the meeting can be a complete waste of everyone’s time.  Even more so when people don’t turn up, are disrespectful or keep everyone else waiting.  We’ve all been there.

As an account handler you’ll need to figure out how to handle the three crucial milestone meetings in the idea making process (and the smaller update sessions that will happen along the way to these milestone meetings) so that the client expectations are properly managed. If you call a meeting – turn up on time. If it’s someone else’s meeting & they don’t show up after 5mins – then just leave. They’ll get the message.

So you’ve met the client, framed the budget, set up a sensible timing plan based on the scope, run some internal discussions, back briefed to the client with the planner & got a pretty decent grip on what needs to be done. What happen’s next with the idea making process can break or make you & the team.

The three milestone sessions I like to run with are as follows:

1) creative briefing

2) tissue session (1st discussion with client but keeping all doors open/gathering reflections)

3) creative recommendation

A word of warning – theses tissue session can result in really fucking awful work unless the client expectations are managed. It’s supposed to be a indicator of trust, taking a stake in the work group & involving the client in the idea making process. It’s not for all clients. Its worth pointing out that these things can be very emotional (and good ideas can be vulnerable) at an early stage in the idea making process.

I recently read some cool shit about Walt Disney & how his team approached idea making. King Walt had 3 specific rooms set up in his organization for different stages of the idea making process.  Each one was set up differently (even with a different seating plan to reflect different focus on each meeting). Here’s the Disney method:

Room 1 The place where dreams are dreamed, ideas were spun out, no restrictions, no limits – just every sort of outrageous creative hunch or idea was freely developed

Room 2 Here the dreams from Room 1 were co-ordinated and the story board created as events and characters fitted into sequence. (The idea of the story board – now ubiquitous – was a Disney invention)

Room 3 The “sweat box” – a small room under the stairs where the whole crew would critically review the project to date with no holds barred. The process was safe because it was the project not a particular individual that was being criticized. This is where ideas where thrashed & stress tested by the group.

Strikes me that the work after the creative briefing & the subsequent discussions happen in room 1. The cook down & action that gets us into something to discuss with the client happens in room 2. Then the stress testing/including client reflection happens in room 3.  Try working these as actual physically different meeting rooms/environments & see how this works with the group dynamic. Your set up (together with the pre work with the planner) is key.

I think you’ll be surprised at how this plays. Change is good. It shakes shit up.

People might actually stop ‘meeting’, start talking & focus on getting even better work out.

But before you call any meeting, be wary of meetingitus. Check & double check its necessary, invite only the people who need to be there, and make sure you accomplish what you set out to accomplish.

If you do these things, you will become known as a person who gets things done. People might be late to other meetings but they’ll turn up on time to yours. And maybe have fun too.





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