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The Agile Creative

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Creative people are strange

Their brains are like spaghetti at times, and in and amongst those noodles are nuggets of brilliance. Creative people like to dictate their own hours. Well that makes sense, because flashes of brilliance don’t always exist from 9-5. Sometimes ideas will come at odd hours. So how do you introduce a creative person to an Agile tool such as Jira without making them feel like you’re trying to impose the very structure onto them that stifles their creativity?

Agile is no longer something confined to software development departments, it’s a process of working and therefore can be implemented in any organisation that has a dependency on the productivity of its people to release products and services to clients. How would you then use Agile in a creative industry?

Agile Creatives

Let me use myself as an example. I’m a Graphic Designer/Social Media Strategist/Digital Marketer/Emotional Creative person.  At first I thought that Agile was a thing, something that I could download onto my computer or something I could store on a shelf. But after some learning I found that it’s a way of working, and after some more learning I found that it is actually a way of life. The principles of Agile relate to people over processes, transparency, continuous testing and committing to completing work while taking responsibility for the outcomes.  For a creative person it sounded like a lovely ideology and when I thought about it even further the principles of Agile enhance creativity in ways that are seamless. Creativity is all about doing. If you sit there and plan for hours on end you won’t get anything done and half the time the plan looks slightly different from the results because somewhere along the way you find problems and soon after you find solutions.

Sometimes we think that in order for creativity to thrive it needs to not have boundaries and limits but that is not always the case. Creative people at times struggle to complete things and this impacts on productivity and perhaps that is due to not having boundaries in place. Sometimes a deadline is not enough. Sometimes creative people need to be able to take the large picture in their heads and break it down into tangible pieces that make ideas come to life faster, and that is something that Agile offers.

The power of agile tools

An agile tool like Jira makes the pieces of the puzzle visible. It takes them out of the bowl of noodles in your head and puts them in front of you everyday. Agile tools also make it easier for organisations to be able to estimate how long it takes to design work. I’ve experienced being in a creative studio and being told that I should design this graphic by tomorrow morning. Well what are we basing this time frame on? With agile tools you can clearly see how long it takes to complete different types of work based on past sprints. This is something that will empower the creative departments and not make their workload dictated by the non-implementation departments (the business development guys) that are situated on the other side of the building.

In conclusion…

The only thing I can tell you is that a Creative person’s burn down chart might see more changes to scope, but you need to forgive the 3am lightbulb moment that needs to be added to the sprint. These things happen.


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