Over the years our work environment has evolved into an egalitarian state of mutual respect and tough love, and we have discovered that the two are not mutually exclusive. We actively create moments of peer review for all projects, and are especially concerned with the initial phases where we determine the strategic bearing of our work. Opening up a fun or challenging project to the whole team has had an interesting effect on the quality of our work: it consistently gets better, faster. Respecting your colleagues translates into never wanting to let the group down by posting half-ass work.
More than just losing a little respect, the crew at Grip have no problem calling out sub-par concepts or execution. It usually plays out something like this: "What's that smell? I think it's coming from your monitor. I thought I smelled crap." Tough love indeed, but like any family, a helping hand or words of encouragement typically follow any ribbing.
Common to most firms is a "board" or "wall" where comps are placed for review—usually in a conference room. Although that is the obvious location for these strategy sessions, I am of the belief that an equally important place is at the kitchen table. Yes, you read right. The kitchen table is of critical importance to fostering an environment of trust and creativity. Think about it: outside of the somewhat formal "board review," moments of casual conversation are where the real heavy lifting of concepting occur. Firm owners take note. Installing a full kitchen is not an expense, it is an investment, and stocking it is even more important. I hope to write more on this subject in future columns, but suffice it to say that happy designers tend to be better designers.
As our process of communal creative evolved, active participation in improving the works of others occurred with astounding regularity. We have seen designers lose the need to "own" a project in favor of bouncing ideas off each other earlier and earlier. The quality of concept, execution, and impact replaced the desire to create the next great piece of an individual's portfolio. Of everything that makes me happy to come to work, the people and their ability to support each other is the most rewarding.
I can only hope that when this is posted nobody complains about the smell.
For a tour of the environment at Grip, look no further than: http://gripdesign.com/pages/studio/tour.php