Amid the flurry of client work, we always have a range on internal projects going on. We’re always spotting things we want to enhance about our process, or a need that could be addressed with some custom tool or software. We’re finding inspiration in new tech or approaches and want to make it work for us. Can’t help ourselves. It’d be like working in a pizza shop and not making yourself a custom pizza. All the ingredients are right there calling to you! Here are some lessons worth taking to heart as you embark on these fun side-quests.
Make it real
Any project you are serious about completing needs structure, organization, and accountability. For all the truly enjoyable and inspiring creative ideas brainstorming, without the constraints of a real project you will quickly find your team losing momentum. Treat your internal projects with the formality you’d afford a paid client gig. In a sense, you’re footing the bill with your valuable time, so there is even more incentive to deliver. Document the team’s ideas and decisions and voice constructive concerns with signature diligence. Project management, deadlines, status meetings, and milestones will give your effort the rigor and sheen of a project worth doing well.
Make it fun
All that said, your team should take advantage of the fact that you only have to answer to yourselves. Have fun and let your best ideas take flight. Celebrate your own tastes by considering bold choices that are free from restraining brand standards, that represent your team’s style and interests. Feel free to appeal to a more narrow or niche audience if it will enable a more satisfying result but still meet your objectives. Distill your visual design into something more daring if that excites you. Take risks. Try some experimental ideas that may or may not pan out. Ask weirder questions to push yourselves to new levels of innovation. Your team will create better concepts if they are engaged, and internal projects can allow you a certain range of freedoms to keep yourself engaged.
Keep it real
All THAT said, you should always be prepared to get real with your team about progress, quality, and any challenges that arise. You deserve a rarefied level of honesty that isn’t always strategically viable with some client work. Give sincere assessments of the work you’re doing with feedback that leverages the unique partnerships of your internal team. Don’t be afraid to divert resources, adjust the schedule, sacrifice a feature, or change up the design if it means keeping your project on track. Save stuff for a second phase. It’s OK.
If you and your team can find the time and resources, making internal projects can truly improve morale, efficiency, and a sense of pride. So, good luck!