3 questions for in-house creative leaders embarking on a transformation journey

It can prove challenging to get your in-house creative team to become high performing divisions of the business

Here are three questions to ask yourself as you embark on your in-house leadership journey to help you change internal perceptions and set your in-house creative team up for business success.


1) Do you know where you are going? 

It would seem like the most obvious starting point to have a vision for your creative team, but it is surprising just how many in-house creative leaders neglect to create one. It is easy to know ‘what’ your team does for the business, but much harder to identify ‘why’.

Without a clear guiding ‘North Star’ it is extremely difficult to know where to focus your team when a barrage of requests come in from across the business. Knowing your ‘why’ provides a clear starting point for developing systems and processes, establishing team culture, and knowing who you might need to hire next.

To make a vision really powerful, though, it must be aligned with the overarching business strategy. For example, if the business your creative team is sitting within wants to become ‘the adviser of choice’, how does the creative team support delivering on that vision? What role will creativity and design need to play? And how will it be delivered and implemented across the business?

Once you know your in-house creative team’s unique ‘why’ you can really start to think about how best to shape them. This new vision will inform every decision you make and give the C-Suite a genuine reason to value your team too.

Your goal is to ensure the CEO and the rest of the business can understand not just ‘what’ your in-house creative team is doing for them on a day-to-day basis but ‘why’ you are doing it and, ultimately, how your ‘why’ positively impacts the business. 

2) Are you servicing or consulting?

Often, the assumption is that an external creative agency can easily maintain a consultative approach, but when you are located within the same business, this is impossible – or is it?  

The real reason your creative team may be falling into the position of service providers is because of their daily behaviours.

How you start interactions with internal clients dictates how they will respond back to you. If you want to kickstart moving your team into a position which is more consultative than being service providers, then the most effective change to make is to get them to act differently.

At Macmillan Cancer Support everyone in the organisation gets a full brand and identity induction by the Creative team when they start working here. Day to day, we give each member of the Creative team a part of the business to support that they have a personal interest in. The creatives build personal relationships with the teams in areas like digital experience, cancer information, or legacies so they can get to grips with the specialist needs of that area and share it with the wider creative and brand team.”

Macmillan Cancer Support.

The real advantage of being an in-house creative team is that you have enormous power and influence to change the way the business operates and works with you. There will always be the opportunity to shift your team and stay in that consultative role but it has to start with you and your team.

3) Are you an intrapreneur?

A high-performing in-house creative team needs a high-performing leader, yet most of the talent in these roles has little or zero business acumen. 

What if you could foster a more entrepreneurial approach in the way your in-house creative team operates? What if your team started to think and act like a mini-business? This ‘intrapreneurial’ approach can get the team inspired to think differently and creatively about how they operate and ultimately how they want to impact the main business.

“At Oliver Wyman, our diverse team of designers is located across many countries and traditionally, design requests would be given to an individual to prepare options. Recently, we have shifted to getting three designers to prepare separate creative routes. Adding in this element of friendly competition has fostered better critiques of the team’s work and enabled us to shift our creativity to the next level. For us, pro-actively spotting opportunities for design to add business value has also always been key.”

Creative Head at Oliver Wyman

From dreaming up creative ways to promote yourselves to internal clients to attracting additional revenue opportunities from external contacts, this mindset shift could get your team feeling more inspired and excited about the opportunities available to them.

Solve all of your in-house creative leadership challenges by becoming a member of the Inside Out® Community. Book a call to find out more with Sarah at sarah@insideoutawards.com.

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