Creative vs. Scientific Process

May 4, 2009

In the March 2009 Harvard Business Review  (subscription required) Joseph M. Hall and M. Eric Johnson have an excellent article titled; When Should a Process Be Art, Not Science?

We know that some tasks are truly difficult to *standardize. Can a grahic designer have controlled processes for their creativity? 
In my opinion – not really!
The Above HBR article dives into the difficulty of managing the inherent tensions between both artistic (which I have traditionally called creative) vs. the more scientific processes as defined by frameworks such as Six Sigma or ITIL.
(for a completely different take on the article, check out Peter Lijnse’s post here.) http://peterlijnse.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/artistic-or-scientific-processes/
Anyway!
For managers in the SME space, the handling of these tensions is many levels beyond the target of this post!
I have been asked before if *creative organizations can implement process management frameworks such as ISO 900x or ITIL. My response and opinion has always been Yes.
But let me back up a bit.
The grahic artist, the author, the copy expert – those creative tasks are one thing. And the argument is always that you can’t make those into a systematic process!
But think of all the supporting cast! Think of all the pieces in your business that generally hide under the SG&A costs on your balance sheet. Most of those *can be systemized via process improvements.
While the graphic artists work is non-structured, the *input (the hand off to the artist) of the requirements and story boards, and the *output (the artists hand off of the completed product or drafts) to the next step can be improved via process improvements.
And the root *because….
In most organizations – time, and money is lost – * not in the tasks themselves, but in the dead space between tasks. When work is moving to the next stage, or waiting for sign off.
I am quite confident you have been in a scenario where you were told; “I gave that to (insert name or department here) last week!”
And those are areas that are just begging for improvement.

We know that some tasks are truly difficult to standardize. Can a graphic designer have controlled processes for their creativity? 

In my opinion – not really!

The Above HBR article dives into the difficulty of managing the inherent tensions between both artistic (which I have traditionally called creative) vs. the more scientific processes as defined by frameworks such as Six Sigma or ITIL.

(for a completely different take on the article, check out Peter Lijnse’s post here.) 

Anyway!

For managers in the SME space, the handling of these tensions is many levels beyond the target of this post!

I have been asked before if creative organizations can implement process management frameworks such as ISO 900x or ITIL. My response and opinion has always been Yes.

But let me back up a bit.

The graphic artist, the author, the copy expert – those creative tasks are one thing. And the argument is always that you can’t make those into a systematic process!

But think of all the supporting cast! Think of all the pieces in your business that generally hide under the SG&A costs on your balance sheet. Most of those can be systematized via process improvements.

While the graphic artists work is non-structured, the input (the hand off to the artist) of the requirements and story boards, and the output (the artists hand off of the completed product or drafts) to the next step can be improved via process improvements.

And the root because….

In most organizations – time, and money is lost –  not in the tasks themselves, but in the dead space between tasks. When work is moving to the next stage, or waiting for sign off.

I am quite confident you have been in a scenario where you were told; “I gave that to (insert name or department here) last week!”

And those are areas that are just begging for improvement.

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One Response to “Creative vs. Scientific Process”


  1. […] I have written previously in; Creative vs. Scientific Process, that wasted effort and time often creeps in at the intersections (or hand off) from one activity […]


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