The article below originally appeared in Leadership Vol. 1 – Best Practices and Processes For In-House Creative Leaders published by In-Source.
All projects are not created equal. Some projects have the right brief, budget and timeline to make it possible to promise – and deliver – excellence. Others…not so much. There is a saying in our business that you may have heard: “Cheap. Fast. Brilliant. Pick two.” No matter how streamlined your creative process is, no matter how experienced you are as a project manager, often, this is all too true.
Two of the three parameters can bend. Some timelines have flexibility. Sometimes more budget can be found. But brilliance is the one thing that you never want to sacrifice.
So what do you do when you’re facing a project that demands brilliance, but there isn’t enough time, budget – or both? Your best course of action is to remind your client that they need to pick between fast and cheap if they want brilliance. Ask questions about the timeline. Is the deadline tied to a real-world hard stop (such as handouts at next week’s tradeshow), or is the deadline more about someone wanting to cross a project off their list ASAP? Is there budget to get more hands on deck by outsourcing to a trusted agency or vendor? Perhaps a future project that has earmarked funds for outsourcing can be swapped for this one. Suggest you can handle that project in-house if you can use that budget to outsource this one. Where possible, trade time for money.
And who knows? Maybe brilliance can be redefined. After a chat about time and budget, the client may realize that a new award-winning design may not be needed for this one – allowing you to pull from your existing inventory of brilliant material and resolve the issue without forgoing your professional standards.
At the end of the day, your job is really about solving problems and adding value, which means that sometimes, you showcase your brilliance as much in how you handle projects and clients as in how well you do the work itself.