Engage your whole team for winning ideas

Move #4 in a series of “9 Best Moves” to achieve development goals and maximize fundraising success.

Traditionally, the Account Executive “leads the charge” on the agency side of development and fundraising efforts. In a sense, I serve as the quarterback. But, the best quarterbacks encourage and allow players in each position to excel at what they’re good at. Forget “top-down” communication and direction. Open conversations generate more energy and better understanding.

Masterworks involves the whole team in creative brief planning, because that’s where the game plan is established. The whole team also participates in client and creative meetings. We’ve found that huddling with all the players generates bigger ideas, fresher concepts, more innovative thinking and a deeper personal investment in final results.

When emotions run high, the best ideas emerge.

Because the mission and purpose of each client we serve is so significant, it’s natural for our staff to care deeply about each project we take on. Good creative demands that we engage the senses and move the audience toward the desired response. As a result, this is a highly emotional business. We speak passionately about the causes we represent as well as the way we represent them. Voices are sometimes raised.  Points are driven home with emphasis. Strategies questioned and evaluated. Differing viewpoints examined openly. Nothing personal, but in a sense, it’s all personal because we believe so strongly and care so deeply. At the end of the day, our goal is to build a trust level that allows us to question and debate, yet listen with open minds and hearts to discover what will be best for the client, and ultimately for the people they serve.

One of my favorite designers here at Masterworks has left a creative meeting more than once in tears. Not because of the lively debate or that his ideas and opinions were squelched. No. Instead, it’s because he cares so much about hungry children needing food. He is so intimately involved in the client’s cause that there’s an emotional response even after several years of working for this particular cause. In a way, he feels like he’s on the staff of the client and it’s his responsibility to make this project “speak” at the very deepest level possible.

Move from intellectual opinion to deeply held belief.

When the conversation turns from “what I think” to “what I really believe,” good things happen. Opinions are fine, but creating and defending what you really believe is when the best work is created.

Our teams are willing to “get our hands dirty” with one another in order to create better products for our clients. Yet, without the freedom from our clients to test new ideas, all that interaction doesn’t work as well.  In our viewpoint, “good enough” is never “good enough!” We need the freedom to stretch and explore the unique and untried. Sure, we do it carefully by testing into totally new ideas so the risk is minimized. Yet, if you’re risk averse, creativity and results eventually suffer.

I ask hard questions of my team and demand that they are prepared to defend their ideas. That leads to good conversations and deeper understanding among the team members and with the client. Ideally, the client is involved in this process as part of our team. The closer we get to total transparency and absolute trust, the more each of us will be able to contribute our very best efforts to the success of our client work.

No superstars needed. No egos wanted. It’s a total team effort.

Check back next week to learn about Best Move #5: Listen to the right numbers. Or enter your email address above to get updates delivered directly to your inbox.

Read: Best Move #3: Get up close and personal.