How to create an inspiring and human way of working within a creative team

Last week, our creative team attended the 'Let's talk design' evening conference, an initiative of Creative Network. Thierry Brunfaut, whose keynote left an impression on our attendees, provided the most important lesson of the evening. 

Thierry Brunfaut, Creative Director of BASE design, shared his former struggle on how to evolve to a better, healthier work environment, something that may sound familiar to many of us. The creative director used to be a full-fledged workaholic: working long hours in complete and total chaos. He felt like a fish in a bucket, ending up with stress taking its toll. Even worse was that he was not alone in this ordeal: his team joined in on the misery. It quickly became obvious the situation needed a drastic change.

His first adaption was visible in the hiring process. Instead of only focusing on the required skills for a job function, he also started looking if potential new talent possessed a fine set of human skills as well. A second major change was when he stopped treating his team as slaves – not only because slavery is illegal, but also because treating everyone as leaders simply shows better results. Thierry allowed his team freedom and autonomy, which gave its members more energy and generated a lot of enthusiasm.

An increased involvement between teams was his third alteration. Much to his surprise, accountants and creatives were longing to know more about each other. By providing more entanglement, Thierry saw how a proper focus on client’s needs was boosted – with happier customers as a final outcome. Being on a roll, BASE’s Creative Director also decided to invite ‘special’ guests once a month, from mental and yoga coaches to inspiring artists. These guests indirectly contribute to a more stimulating environment. 

The final hassle for his company was the off-putting chaos that they called planning. Basically because in reality, there was no actual planning. This, of course, ensued in high stress-levels and a lot of miscommunication. Thierry therefore implemented 3 meetings a week as a solution. And guess what, it worked. Here’s the planning: 

Every Monday starts with a 30-minutes ‘Challenges of the Week’ meeting, in which they share their upcoming workweek. On Wednesdays , they organize a 3-hour long creative meeting to discuss expectations and contributions. Thursday is the day to lunch and chitchat with the team – no work-related anything allowed. Fridays are to evaluate the week and to plan up ahead for Monday. Every other moment of the week, people are granted full autonomy. 

The results, you ask? Productivity went through the roof on a very short time and people worked fewer hours while delivering more. Fridays became actual Friyays as most people could take the day off – and the Friday meeting has since then been rescheduled to Monday.

So what did we learn today?

Thierry’s story is proof that more autonomy and an inspiring working environment truly contributes to not only happier people, but also to more efficiency, a better team and even better company. Are you ready to change?

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