A Better Workflow

Kevin Gepford

KEVIN GEPFORD: THE BLOG

I’m interested in the intersection of technology, business and creative organizations — especially in tools that bring creative people together to not only improve their work lives but also build positive business outcomes.

I write on topics related to digital workspaces, creative operations, media management, and workflows.

You can contact me through this site, or find me on Twitter and LinkedIn .

Killer Ops: Minimum Viable Product

Sep 07, 2016

By Kevin Gepford

About the Killer Ops series:

How can creative teams increase their Value Proposition? How can they become better strategic partners in the organization? Following the model of Product Development, creative teams – and organizations – can learn to think and act like a startup, and develop a framework for continuous innovation, improved operations, and greater success.

What is a MVP? Validating an idea by identifying the smallest things that could be done to get results.

Why it Matters By starting small you test your ideas, as well as gain momentum, experience and credibility in your quest to make a bigger difference.

Product Managers talk about Minimum Viable Product as a way of building a prototype with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development (Read More).

One of the things I love about this idea is that its goal is to learn the most about a product with the least amount of effort. It’s inspiring. I should acknowledge that the term MPV has a very specific meaning in the world of Product Management. In order to emphasize practical ways out the specific benefits to Creative Ops, I’ve appropriated the term and tweaked that classic definition to suit my own ends.

I propose that, for our purposes, a Minimum Viable Product might be something we could actually do using the least amount of effort, fewest resources, and without disruption in daily operations. We can validate our idea by taking visible action – or even several small actions.

The ideas you’re validating could include: “Does your team have the capacity to adapt and change to new demands from the business?”, or “What is my personal capacity to implement change?” At its essence, it could be thought of as mini-makeover of our Creative Operations. As I see it, this could be a grassroots, or guerrilla operation. And the experience will give us some little proofs-of-concept that lead into the bigger ideas we’re working on — which will play themselves out on a larger stage and require organizational support.

Keep in mind that only you know what better Creative Ops looks like in your organization. But we share the same goal of improved and even innovative operations — processes, structure, people, and the tools needed to make it all work.

We can consider anything that meets the following criteria:

  • Tweaks current processes
  • Uses free or existing tech resources
  • Doesn’t need high-level permission
  • Doesn’t involve capital expenditure
  • Doesn’t require hiring
  • Does help morale
  • Doesn’t make people afraid that layoffs are coming
  • Can be explained in two sentences
  • Can be done without having to announce it

Here’s the assignment: What can you do now, on your own and with the resources you have, to improve operations?

  • A Minimum Viable Product could include:
  • Build a template library for all your deliverables
  • Try using Slack
  • Create a Wiki page to introduce freelancers and consultants to your culture and process
  • Create a Wiki page for frequently asked questions
  • Develop an online Brand Style Guide
  • Create Digital Toolkits for video
  • Change your meeting formats to standup
  • Hold post-mortem meetings after a campaign has finished
  • Stop padding your deadlines
  • Push approvals down a level, to free up creative director time
  • Buy your team beer on Fridays
  • Can be funded from OPEX

MVP


Viewed this way, a Minimum Viable Product could include:
  • Build a template library for all your deliverables
  • Try using Slack
  • Create a Wiki page to introduce freelancers and consultants to your culture and process
  • Create a Wiki page for frequently asked questions
  • Develop an online Brand Style Guide
  • Create Digital Toolkits for video
  • Change your meeting formats to standup
  • Hold post-mortem meetings after a campaign has finished
  • Stop padding your deadlines
  • Push approvals down a level, to free up creative director time
  • Buy your team beer on Fridays
  • Can be funded from OPEX
In the longer term, of course, we’re aiming for bigger changes. But there’s a lot of work ahead to do to get ready for that.

Our final plan will require bold proposals and take more resources. It could involve:

  • Shooting for the stars!
  • CAPEX
  • Business case
  • Permission from IT
  • Permission from director of finance
  • Permission from SVPs
  • Hiring of consultants
  • Hiring new staff
  • New lines of reporting
  • Deploying new digital tools
  • Change management
Bottom Line
Test your Creative Ops Chops and start where you are — focus on what’s possible, try some small changes, and watch and learn from it.

Data and the Power of DAM at Comedy Central

Aug 12, 2016

By Kevin Gepford

Digital Asset Management at Comedy Central got its start as a grassroots initiative about a decade ago, and over the years had steadily grown in size and usefulness while never quite achieving institutional legitimacy.


One day I realized I was tired of explaining to our creative and business managers – every budget cycle – why investing in our Digital Asset Management system was so important. I needed to figure out how to present my case for DAM in a way that made sense to them: I turned to storytelling.

Read More →

Digital Asset Management Helps Comedy Central Find the Funny

Jul 31, 2016

By Kevin Gepford

Digital Asset Management was one of my early initiatives at Comedy Central, and it’s remained one of my all-time favorite projects there.

Comedy Central’s DAM system was originally created by — and for the benefit of — the print design team. The initiative started small, but it grew to serve additional teams across the larger creative workgroup. Over the course of a decade its reach eventually expanded to serve a broad swath of users across Viacom’s corporate enterprise — users who have come to depend on it for ready access to a collection of more than 50,000 of Comedy Central’s branded digital assets.

Read More →

Killer Ops: Business Model for Creative Operations

Jul 12, 2016

This series of posts focuses on boosting Creative Operations by applying ideas inspired by Product Management – leading to improved processes and delivery, and becoming better strategic partners in your organization.

By Kevin Gepford

What’s the Business Model Canvas? The Canvas is a one-page template that lays out both what you do, and how you go about doing it. It documents existing business models — or helps develop new ones — and provides a framework for you to design, challenge, invent, and change.

Why it Matters The canvas forces you to distill everything you do down to its essence — and create a document that visually explains it. The template works for businesses and start-ups, and also for teams and departments within larger organizations.

Read More →

Killer Ops: SWOT Analysis

Jun 03, 2016

By Kevin Gepford

This series of posts focuses on boosting Creative Operations by applying ideas inspired by Product Management – leading to improved processes and delivery, and becoming better strategic partners in your organization.

What’s SWOT?: SWOT analysis is a framework for doing research and formulating a business strategy. It analyzes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and can be applied to existing businesses, teams and departments, and new business ideas.

Why it Matters: This is essential for developing your group’s Value Proposition. Insights from your internal research are synthesized to map ways to improve operations, use resources more efficiently, and anticipate risks to your group and its success.

Read More →

​Killer Ops: First Steps of Discovery

Apr 30, 2016

By Kevin Gepford

This series of posts focuses on boosting Creative Operations by applying ideas inspired by Product Management – leading to improved processes and delivery, and becoming better strategic partners in your organization.

What This Is: Put on the thinking cap and come up with broad ideas about how to improve Creative Operations.

Why It’s Important: Without a plan, we won’t know where we’re going.

Read More →

What Can Creative Operations Learn from Product Management?

Apr 19, 2016

By Kevin Gepford

This series of posts focuses on boosting Creative Operations by applying ideas inspired by Product Management – leading to improved processes and delivery, and becoming better strategic partners in your organization.

As a Creative Operations leader you see your team struggling on a daily basis to get the work done, in an environment that sorely needs a makeover.

The creative workplace is largely reactive — lurching from crises to crisis, shooting at everything in sight, rushing to meet deadlines, and driven by creative visionaries with their mercurial ways.

We need to make some changes in our approach. As the Grail Knight said to Indiana Jones in “The Last Crusade”: It’s important to choose wisely.

Read More →

How to build a 3.0 Version of Your Creative Team

Mar 31, 2016

By Kevin Gepford

In just a few weeks, the 2016 Henry Stewart DAM NY Conference will feature an all-new Creative Operations track. I’m thrilled to return as a speaker.

Save the Date: May 5-6, 2016
Please read to the bottom for a discount code that will save you $100!

For the last two years at the conference, I’ve talked about Comedy Central’s digital content hub at — first as a case study focusing on the benefits our system offered to our creative team. Last fall, at the Los Angeles conference, I dove a little deeper into our strategy and development process, and the business benefits of the in-house product development of our solution to address several core creative operations needs.

Read More →

The Evolution of Comedy Central’s Creative Content Hub

Feb 23, 2016

By Kevin Gepford

This is a tale of two departments that tore Comedy Central’s digital creative content hub in half.

I jest! We’re comedy natives — no drama for us!

Read More →

Comedy Central Dumps its Obsolete Optical Media Archive

Feb 04, 2016

By Kevin Gepford

Comedy Central migrated its entire Brand Creative archive to a modern system, and tossed 18 years worth of optical media into the dumpster.

Here’s how.

We had amassed 800+ CD’s and DVD’s in a comprehensive archive of all source files — for every single print project generated by the Brand Creative group since the team… well, pretty much since the team’s very beginnings.

Read More →

Dragon Wranglers of Creative Operations

Jan 20, 2016

9 Dragons of Creative Ops

By Kevin Gepford

The New York City MTA recently rolled out an innovative awareness campaign involving thousands of subway posters to enlighten straphangers on how to comport themselves when riding public transportation. Oh, it’s also posted in five languages, just to make sure the message gets through.

Read More →

​Creative Ops: Digital Tool Ad-Hockery

Jan 10, 2016


By Kevin Gepford

Great creative work can’t get produced without a great design team.

But success depends on a lot more than just those endpoints. It also hinges on how the great work gets produced.

Read More →

Creative Ops: What’s the Matter With Task Management?

Dec 09, 2015

What's the Matter with Task Management?

By Kevin Gepford

Within the last year Comedy Central augmented its digital workspace with two new third-party systems, one for task management system and a sister system for project management. This filled a real need; our workflow tool already let users leave notes and comments about the media, and it retained the chain of conversation around a project or asset. But it just wasn’t enough.

Read More →

Creative Ops: The Sweet Spot for Digital Workspaces

Dec 04, 2015

By Kevin Gepford

When it comes to workflow solutions, my presentations at Henry Stewart have espoused a decidedly contrarian point of view, based on my experience and a sound business case at Comedy Central.

Our creative review and approval system is built in house using Ruby on Rails, hosted by Amazon Web Services. We chose not to outsource the creativity that is so vital to our process.

Read More →

Creative Ops: Digital Workspaces & Getting the Last 20 Percent

Nov 19, 2015

By Kevin Gepford

It’s a big confusing world out there, with solutions offered for every possible workflow challenge. That’s why conferences like the Henry Stewart one I recently attended are so important.

Operations professionals go to find answers and to learn from case studies like mine from Comedy Central to see how other enterprises are dealing with workflow issues. (Read my The Sweet Spot for Digital Workspaces about how I helped Comedy Central find its Sweet Spot.)

Read More →

Henry Stewart Knocks Again (and how to get a conference discount)

Oct 26, 2015

By Kevin Gepford

My next public speaking engagement is just around the corner, and I can’t wait to share my thoughts about building digital workspaces for creative teams.

I’ll be at the Henry Stewart DAM Conference, in Los Angeles, which runs Nov. 12-13, 2015. Please read to the bottom of this post for information on how to register for a discount!

Much of my new thinking has emerged from the Product Management intensive course I recently completed at General Assembly. This curriculum covered the entire scope of product development from concept, user surveys, wireframing, testing ideas, MVP’s, business canvases, working with developers, competitive landscape, scrum and a host of other great concepts. As a Product Manager, the entire arc of development through implementation is on your shoulders.

Read More →

General Assembly – A Personal Review

Oct 23, 2015

General Assembly

By Kevin Gepford

I’m fresh off the General Assembly boat, and couldn’t feel happier about my experience.

GA offers a great array of fresh, focused career-building courses on web development (front- and back-end), user experience (UX) design, as well as iOS development, data analytics and digital marketing.

What class did I take, why did I do this, and what did I learn?

Read More →

General Assembly, Here I Come!

Aug 11, 2015

By Kevin Gepford

Today is the first day of school, and I’m excited!

I’ve heard so many great things about General Assembly, starting with my former boss and dear friend who is now working at a major U.S. home furnishings-and-decor retailer thanks to the UX Design course she took at GA. That was enough to convince me – but she’s just one of several people to describe their learning at GA to help advance their careers… sometimes even in a new direction.

Read More →

Media Attention: TechTarget on Getting Beyond 85 Percent

Jul 17, 2015

By Kevin Gepford

My first career was writing for a newspaper. Of all the things I loved about that, meeting new people and writing about interesting new topics topped the list. It’s quite a different experience being the subject of an interview, and have a story published about it, but that’s what happened recently.

Read More →

Another Invitation to Speak – DAM LA 2015

Jun 09, 2015

By Kevin Gepford

Fantastic news – I’ve been invited to talk about Comedy Central’s workflow system on the West Coast.

My contact at Henry Stewart Conferences told me that my New York presentation in May got lots of positive feedback. Attendees rated me in their top 3 sessions. The conference organizers feel that my story might be a good fit for their West Coast audience. There’s a lot in common between the New York and Los Angeles crowd – both have a high concentration of creative industries.

Let’s mark our calendars, shall we?
Nov. 12-13, 2015

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