Invest in training staff, but include yourself as well

The good news is that British Design & Art Direction is planning to include design in its Work Out series of workshops from October.

The good news is that British Design & Art Direction is planning to include design in its Work Out series of workshops from October. So far limited to the advertising community, the workshops have a duel focus: to boost craft skills and provide inspiration to flagging creatives, and never has there been a better time for the design community to reinvigorate itself.

Details have yet to be revealed, but we’re told there will be differences between D&AD’s advertising series and the sessions geared towards designers, not least in time and cost elements. But the essence will be the same, and workshops on, say, animation may entail a healthy crossover between the two communities.

When times are tough it’s easy to put training on hold, seeing it as a cost rather than an investment. But this is shortsighted, quality people being design’s biggest asset. A fired-up team makes a group more able to compete for work on the strength of its design quality and a caring approach to personal development helps to build loyalty when cash rewards are hard to give.

It’s also easy for bosses to think that ‘training’ is purely for the minions, when they themselves could benefit even more, using the inspiration they gain to boost creativity within the business.

Several groups have been rebuilding their creative strength, from global giants Enterprise IG and Landor Associates to UK players like Fitch London and Ziggurat. For some smaller groups the traumas of just keeping the business afloat have taken their toll on senior creatives, particularly if the business is their own.

In many cases this has meant bringing in new people. Jon Turner’s appointment at Enterprise IG, Allison Miguel’s at Ziggurat and Sasha Vidakovic’s at Landor Milan (DW 23 May) are good examples, but it isn’t the only way. A reinvigorated creative director or senior designer can have just as much impact on a consultancy’s creative performance.

D&AD isn’t the only organisation offering training. Indeed, many groups have long been running inspirational events for themselves. Smith & Milton runs weekly art classes for the whole team, for example, while Interbrand calls in non-design speakers.

And there are other ways. At Enterprise IG, Turner sends designers on cheap weekend breaks with a research brief rather than on formal training courses, while Fitch London creative head Tim Greenhalgh uses various ploys to involve designers in broader activities.

There’s a strong business argument for keeping your team inspired, and it’s fun. As I mentioned in Comment last week, just make sure you don’t exclude yourself from the process.

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