27 Jan How to flex your creative capacity
Growth is always good, right? It’s exciting when new business and projects are coming your way. After all, new business means that you’re definitely doing something (or lots of things) really well. But all of this business can be problematic when your firm is running at or near capacity. When your workload increases and there are more deadlines on the calendar, you could turn your team for more billable hours, but that isn’t always a great idea. Burnout is real. But there’s good news: You can flex your creative capacity and keep up with demand, all without overwhelming your team.
Whether it’s because of seasonality, surges, product launches, or a rebrand, every successful company has gone through a time when demand exceeded capacity. In these moments, it would be great if you could take care of everything with your existing team, but that often isn’t the most practical option.
According to Tim Williams of the Ignition Consulting Group, high utilization almost always leads to delays in a company’s workflow. Stefan Thomke and Donald Reinertsen of the Harvard Business Review support this, saying that adding 5% more work might take 100% longer because of the Queuing Theory, which expresses that with variable processes (like jobs other than manufacturing work) “the amount of time projects spend on hold (waiting to be worked on) rises steeply as utilization of resources increases.” Basically, by working at max capacity, your projects will take longer and your team will be on the fast track to burnout.
The worst (and least obvious part) of running at capacity
One of the worst consequences of running at max capacity isn’t quite as obvious as fatigue.
Having your team working at max will encourage them to only focus on what’s immediate…and this type of mentality and short-sightedness discourages workers from innovating. Your business shouldn’t value efficiency over potentially business-changing (or even market-changing) innovation. Harvard’s Clayton Christensen says that businesses are naturally inclined to dedicate their resources to “efficiency innovations” instead of “market-creating innovations”; but companies should strive to be not only efficient but effective as well. This can only happen when your creative employees have time to invest in your business’ future…and that means having time to think. After all, a company’s most important assets are its creative thinkers.
What are the best ways to flex my creative capacity?
It’s perfectly fine to call in some extra help during an event surge or a big change like a rebrand. You can extend your company’s creative capacity by outsourcing to a team of trusted specialists or bringing some freelancers on a temporary basis. But if you’re going to outsource, you have to make sure you really outsource. The key is to pick a creative team that creates work you respect and giving them the starting points to successfully finish the project. It’s really all about trust.
If you can outsource with trust, you can make sure that your core really team has both the support they need to work efficiently and enough time to think about projects on a larger scale. But most importantly, you give your team enough flexibility to work on what’s next for your company.
Need specialized creative services for your company?