Last year, we embarked on a programme of creative side projects that started with a series of activities to celebrate our 25th year in business. Since then, they’ve included our Poster Project exhibition at South Block in Glasgow this summer, and our film poster design competition, Now Showing, in partnership with The Cameo cinema in Edinburgh.
These projects are conceived, developed and implemented by our team and are separate to client work. It’s worth mentioning that embarking on this endeavour took a bit of a mind shift on our part; we had to let go of the long held notion that all creative output from our studio had to be billable, and instead, nurture and encourage creative projects that wouldn’t immediately contribute to the bottom line. The idea being that in the short term, they would benefit our business in other ways, and ultimately (hopefully) have a positive impact on our reputation and profitability.
Clearly, we’re not the first company to encourage creative side projects. Google famously introduced their 20% time initiative back in 2007. It has since gone through a number of iterations and has had varying degrees of success. For us though, the guiding principle remains true; projects like these foster creativity, innovation and collaborative working and create a huge sense of collective achievement, all of which helps to inform client work and can surely only have positive effects on the business. They encourage team members to step out of their individual comfort zones and embark on something they’ve never done before, and they foster accountability, with responsibility for all aspects of the projects – including creative, budget and deadlines – handed over to the team working on them. All of this has to be managed in tandem with client projects – no mean feat.
Managed well, creative side projects can have real and lasting positive effects on your team and your business – it’s just a question of holding your breath and diving in.