I almost quit my job a while back, because Mailbox.app was released and we had Outlook at my office. I now had the option to revolutionise the way I handled my inbox for my personal Gmail account, but NOT for my work mail. As you can imagine, this called for a tantrum. In the end I didn't end my employment (of course) but I advice everyone to quit their job because your office uses MS Exchange.
The reason I tell you this story is to illustrate that creatives are crazy, and we should be. When software and closed systems (intranets) are being built, no one is building for the crazy ones. But they should. Because if you get the creatives on board, everyone else is either already on board or will follow immediately.
Sure, there’s a lot of start-ups that are great and you constantly hear about these small agencies that use systems like Harvest, Basecamp, Layervault, Google Mail, and whatnot, but the reality is that big companies don’t.
Every agency I have worked on have had closed knowlewdge sharing sites and Internets. They all looked horrible and no one used them, except for some poor planners. I have also worked on projects where we created intranets and other closed systems for other companies, and this is basically what I have learned.
Build for big egos
Everyone like to be seen. If the system is closed, and almost no one will see what you post (compared to the whole world) then what is the incentive to be active? Build some sort of internal ranking, and make the prizes something better than badges (gamefication sucks). Showcase a leader board on the start page. Email everyone at the office of the top-contributors every week. Change everyones screen saver to a slideshow of the one who shares best links. Something real. Ask yourself what personal gain (fame) will come out of it. Not what the company will gain, cause no one cares about that.
Build a creative space
I worked at Ericsson once, where we sat in cubicles with ThinkPads running Windows XP. The job was fun (on paper) and my co-workers where really nice but I loathed the lack of creative space. I just wanted to go out and beat up a printer, basically. Everything, all the time should be well designed and look good.
The reason all creative people suck at time reporting is not because it's hard work or that it's "difficult to put a time stamp on creativity" it's because all time reporting software fucking sucks. I heard great things about Harvest, but my only experience is "Time Grip" and "New Dawn" and I seriously have wanted to commit suicide every time I open it up. Make it nice and people will use it happily.
Build for the creatives and the other will come
No offence to anyone, but if you work in Excel your entire workday your threshold of how software should look and function is so low, you will basically take anything by now.
Always design for the people that take these petty things seriously, because if you win them over you have everyone. Lose them and it's baby sitting hell for PM and HR the coming years.
That sort of decision making goes for what software you use at the office, what systems are in place, and so forth. The Creative Director should be heavily involved in what email system you use, the UX director should have veto right on what printers you're buying. These are not IT or HR decisions, in my mind.
Note: I think closed systems are a thing of the past and so is company secrets. Everything should always be done in the open. It is my belief that all agencies should offer full transparency on all their work, like the fine people over at Layervault. However, I know that’s not likely to change any time soon. Hence this article.