As an indie studio leader, you face many creative challenges. You have to balance your team’s vision with your budget and time limits. You also have to communicate, coordinate, and collaborate effectively with your talented and passionate team members. How can you lead them creatively and help them achieve their best work?
There are approximately 8,425,656 different leadership tactics according to a figure I just made up. Joking aside, you can likely find leadership tactics that mesh with your own leadership style and the needs of your team – but you also need a strategy or approach to apply them so can get results and help your team, your studio, and yourself be successful.
For creative leadership, this can be done with framework that provides layered input & feedback, providing empowerment to your team, and when necessary – the means for quick decisive action… Vision, Direction, Prescription.
So, what’s that actually mean and how can you use it?
Vision: The “Why”
Vision is the cornerstone of your creative leadership. It’s not just your personal vision for the game; it’s a shared understanding that inspires and focuses the entire team. Articulate your vision clearly and consistently, ensuring everyone is aligned on the “Why” behind the game. The Vision provides the foundation and roadmap to help guide decision-making at every level.
Direction: The “What”
Direction is how you translate your vision into concrete and engaging elements. The goal is to provide your team with the context and clarity they need to design and develop assets, features, systems, characters, and everything really — in a way that uses the vision to connect with, delight, and surprise your target audience.
Prescription: The “How”
Important – Prescription is a tool you should reach for infrequently. It’s useful in a ‘break glass in case of emergency’ situation but it can demotivate and demoralize and disengage your team. Use this as little as possible and with as light a touch as possible.
For the purposes of this framework, Prescription is straight-up dictating a specific answer, approach, or implementation. In other words, “Do it like this.” In an ideal scenario, you’d rarely need to resort to Prescription. You get the best results when the “how” comes from the team based on the Vision and Direction, so reserve this for rare cases, such as hyper-tight deadlines or emergency-type situations (like you’re demoing the game at show and something goes wrong).
How Do You Put This Into Practice?
Let’s take a look at some ways to put this into action:
- Take the time to establish a shared vision early on. Involve your team in shaping the vision, ensuring everyone has a stake in it. Establishing it isn’t enough though, which leads to…
- Communicate the vision regularly. Remind your team of the “Why” behind the game, keeping them motivated and aligned. It’s important to remember, especially as your team grows, not everyone communicates the same way – so be sure to communicate across “channels” verbal, written, visual, etc…
- Use Vision and Direction to foster autonomy. This approach provides enough guidance to keep the team on track, but also gives them the freedom to explore their creativity.
- Cultivate a culture of open communication. Encourage team members to share their ideas and concerns openly. To get the most from your team, to give them the space they need to surprise you with amazing results absolutely REQUIRES psychological safety.
Anyway, wrapping this all up, by effectively utilizing a Vision, Direction, and Prescription framework, you can empower your team to produce exceptional work that brings your shared vision to life, and allows your team’s talent and passion to shine through.
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If you’re an indie dev or team needing help to finish your game, develop a production plan, or build a launch strategy, book a discovery call with me to see how I might be able to help.