I am up to my ears lately because I have succeeded in attracting an abundance of dream clients: Creative, innovative, deeply thinking, open to possibility—Ayeee!!

The past two weeks have mostly been spent creating flowcharts, communicating, adjusting flowcharts and communicating some more. For once, I’ve been thankful for the boring little projects one can sweep together quickly, fold into a zip file, and Send.

Of course I love those dream clients.

That’s why I call them Dream Clients.

And as I had hoped, they’ve got me thinking. At the moment, I’m thinking about how to encourage all this creativity and innovation I’m deluged with, and still get the work done.

My key tool is what I call “mirroring”: I mirror the client’s ideas back to them, but in as organized a way as possible. Mostly, that involves a flowchart, a short list of project deliverables, and a rough list of tasks.

Unfortunately, all that accomplishes at the moment is a friendly letter thanking me for clarifying thoughts, and an inspired, stream-of-consciousness fountain of new ideas.

I’m convinced there is a way to encourage creative clients, but still finish projects and make a living. At the moment, however, there’s such an abundant flow of creative thought, I feel lifted off my feet, and the solid ground of specific, productive tasks.

Let’s trust that all is well, and let that creative flow do its thing for a bit. We’ll keep track of hours, and add emphasis (big, bold, red letters) to a note I included in a recent project estimate:

Planning, project management:
This includes charting the site, which I’ve already done, as well as correspondence, distilling meeting notes, creating and keeping to schedules, and confirming the best software resources for your requested features. Keep in mind that—particularly, but not only once we get going—changing feature requests means more time spent in this department!

Hm… should I say “more time and money”? What are the pros and cons of making that crystal clear, down-to-earth statement? It’s certainly costing me both time and money. But there is also something else I gain when I do a little flagrant, time-wasting Dreaming.


3 Responses to Unbridled Creativity: Control it? Direct it? or…?

  1. Sean Howard says:

    Hey Penina,

    Great questions. We lock scope right out the gate. Every job has a process, includes and excludes.

    And in the cases where we fail to specify these things, we generally suffer. 😉

    One of the things we track of late is a questions list and a 2.0 list. And we review those every client meeting. Or at least monthly. Helps a lot. You can discuss why something was put in 2.0 and if they really really want it, you can decide what feature to remove to make room (time) for it or to submit a change order.

    ie: try to make it a choice of the client. It helps if you can make them realize there are only so many hours. They can choose what goes in… but something has to be pulled out if we add something new/found.

  2. Penina says:

    The word, “Scope”, possesses a flavor that improves with age. 🙂

    Still, how quickly do you nail down what that scope is? What tools do you use to define it? And at what point do you tell the client, “Stop!” We’ll put that in on the next round!”

  3. Sean Howard says:

    I’ve been told it comes down to 2 things

    1) Clearly defining the scope (set expectations)
    2) Have a process (that is also defined in the scope)

    But I’ve had to add a 3rd item
    3) Find someone good at doing 1 & 2 who can also advise you in advance when you are going to go insane with work. 😉


    Hiring a producer changed my world. Someone that is good at keeping up with the tasks. I still get involved in 1 & 2, but I at least now know when I can let stuff slide or when I need to hold the line so as to be able to finish my other responsibilities

    But hey! You have cool awesome projects!!! That’s awesome news!!

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