Hello there! My name is Marco Gervasio and this is a collection of stories about how interaction design, digital marketing, visual design, and social media can come together to create powerful programs and platforms for a meaningful customer experience. Feel free to reach out to me:

marco@sequential.ca

How Agile Can Strengthen Relationships & Enhance Creativity

Harmonious collaboration is probably a utopian concept, but we all aspire to achieve it. However, the road to that ultimate state of being is never a smooth one (and a never ending one either).

I have been in the agency world my entire career, and being digital-focused, I have been exposed to very strong and distinct forces: the very structured and rational technologists, and the free-spirited and more emotional designers. To this day, they are still not easily synchronized, despite our best efforts in implementing various types of workflows.

For the past 20 years, particularly with the birth and rise of Internet, process has been for many digital marketing agencies a constant struggle, mainly because of the art/tech duality. We seem to have difficulty finding that magic powder that will balance this Ying and Yang. It is in part due to the fact that, as a new industry was emerging way back then, we could not just use the ad agency creative process or the software development workflow. Neither provided a framework for our new blended reality. So for the longest time, we have been working very hard at merging them into a common structure, unsuccessfully. And perhaps that was the mistake.

In recent years, we have often heard about the “agile” standards as a possible remedy to the above challenge. It is a word that pleases the geeks (because it comes from the software industry as a proven process) but it does scare most creative people (a big misconception by the latter). But they need not to worry this much. Here’s why.

In some ways, agile is more of a behavior than a specific process. In the context of a digital agency, it should never replace how art directors come up with their ideas (a very organic and volatile flow) or how developers go about coding and testing their systems (where logic and order dictates). What it should do is bring these experts closer together, increase mutual respect, and help them solve problems more efficiently. The founding principles are also well aligned with people’s expectations of how they want to relate to projects: a sense of belonging, purpose, and accomplishment.

At the core, agile is simple: people collaborating early on, less documenting and more prototyping, iterating often, and communicating regularly. You basically unite a bunch of smarty-pants so they understand what the challenge is, uncover opportunities, and more importantly, develop brilliant solutions.  This is the essential outcome of collective thinking where we continuously leverage each other’s brain cells to achieve our goals, a constant back and forth. It is also exactly how brainstorming sessions work: get a group of people in a room and let them bounce various insights and ideas until they come up with the big concept. More brains are truly better than just one, and that’s why agile methodology can enable people to be more inventive. They simply spend more time together solving problems.

Most agencies can learn from that. Too often we see strong hierarchies and silos. They need to break it all up and implement a more human and enabling way of working. An open environment will not only make people feel more positive and inspired but they will be more motivated to take risks and propose novel ideas.

As creative director, there was a point in my career when I decided to leverage some of the agile principles in order to not only ensure we would come up with incredible campaigns or engagement programs, but also to create a strong bond between my teammates. And it really worked. Everyone felt very involved and needed. Sharing our thoughts and finding answers together was very fulfilling. Everybody felt very attached to the project, the brand, and the target audience.

Agile is an attitude, which means you need to teach your team to behave a certain way. Provide them with a code of conduct, a shared belief system, and an overall culture that is conducive to innovation.

Key take-away:

- Focus on people and their minds, let them acquire and share knowledge
- Encourage risk-taking, empower talent
- Stimulate frequent interactions (in person is best)
- Prototype more, document less, focus on value and meaning
- Test often, adjust rapidly, adapt to change
- Involve the client, stay transparent
- Target excellence

 

Marco Gervasio

 

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marco@sequential.ca

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www.linkedin.com/in/MarcoGervasio

Portfolio 
www.behance.net/MarcoGervasio

Creative Blog
www.inload.com

User Experience Artifacts 
www.slideshare.net/MarcoGervasio

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