There is an "I" in integration

This post is dedicated to anyone who has ever rebelled against power dotting.

This post is dedicated to anyone who has ever rebelled against power dotting. That's right. How many times have we agreed to “play nice in the sandbox” with other agencies and then kicked ourselves for it later?

The most common complaints: watered down ideas, creativity by consensus, and pointless brainstorms. Note to self: putting everything in the same template does not make it seem more cohesive.

In my role as a creative and strategic planner, about half of my time is devoted to working across integrated agency teams. I will be the first to admit it can be a rollercoaster. It's exhilarating on a good day, but sometimes makes you want to scream. But one thing is consistent - there is always something new to learn. And with that, I decided to reflect on the most successful integrated campaigns I've worked on and what elements of the process helped us get to winning ideas.

Build relationships, not friendships. Knowing the difference between friendships and relationships is an important lesson. A friendship means you want to go to a party with someone. A relationship means you want them in your study group. The latter is more important when working on an integrated team because you want to establish professional credibility based on your knowledge and ideas, not because you're both planning destination weddings. Fast tracking friendships can leave you feeling guilty when you need to push back or give feedback on their ideas.

Think outside the traditional brainstorm. We enter brainstorms with the best of intentions. There are markers. There is chocolate. Sometimes there are even slinkies. But joint brainstorms are not always the creative answer. Ideation styles clash, agencies have competing agendas, and someone will inevitably think that bad ideas are okay in brainstorms. Alternatives like online workspaces where teams can work off central documents, leave comments, and vote on ideas can relieve tension and amp productivity.

Say goodbye to jargon. Different agencies and disciplines have different words for the same thing and the same word for different things. There is rarely consensus on the difference between a platform and an idea. A message to a PR agency means what a consumer takes away. A message to an ad agency more likely means copy. Remember all elements will ultimately be consumer facing, so the more you can shape ideas with that in mind, the less fat there will be around the idea.

Rethink what leadership means. Whether the group anoints a leader or someone jumps in to steer the ship, it's important to have someone steward the process with larger objectives in mind. But leadership doesn't mean lead creative. As a leader, it's more important to recognize a good idea than to come up with one.

In the wake of Steve Jobs' death, we've been given pearls of wisdom about managing A+ talent. Do you think he got mad when Apple engineers came up with great products? Part of his genius was elevating and unleashing the potential of ideas and people. And that can also be part of yours.

Adrianna Giuliani is SVP of creative and strategic planning at DeVries. Follow her on Twitter at @adriannagiuls.

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