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This post was written by Ellie Baldini, Content Marketing Manager at inMotionNow. inMotionNow is a 2016 MAX partner. We’d like to thank all of our 2016 MAX partners who help make the conference possible.

Nothing takes the spark out of freshly completed creative work like a long and unproductive review and approval process. A recent survey conducted by the Creative Group found creative teams rank approval processes are one of the top 5 challenges to effective collaboration. And without collaboration, consistently brilliant creative output just isn’t possible.

If your team’s creative spark is feeling stifled by an unproductive approval process, it might be time to identify your biggest barriers. Here, we explore two of the biggest.

Feedback Fatigue

Whether it’s overly vague, hard to understand, or just plain in-actionable, unproductive feedback can lead to strained communication, deteriorated relationships, and a decline in creative quality. Are collaborators delivering bad feedback to your team? Then it’s time to address their habits head on.

Everyone loves a good compliment, but if you’re working with a collaborator who never has any criticism, your team could quickly find themselves in a creative rut. A Harvard Business Review recently found that 57% of people prefer corrective feedback to praise. That’s because most creatives rely on constructive criticism for project next steps and directions for improvement.

People who avoid delivering negative feedback are often easily intimidated by situations that feel closed-off. Ask yourself: Are you encouraging open dialogue? Are you responding well to your collaborators’ comments?

Also be wary of reviewers who deliver overly nit-picky feedback, or critique works-in-progress as if they were final versions. Not receiving the type of actionable comments needed to direct a project’s next steps can cost your team time and energy—which is why it’s so important to provide collaborators guidance.

Try 42 Floors founder Jason Freedman’s Thirty Percent Feedback idea.

“I once asked [my investor] for feedback on a product mockup, and he asked if I felt like I was 90 percent done or 30 percent done,” explains Jason. “If I was 90 percent done, he would try to correct me on every little detail possible, because otherwise a typo might make it into production. But if I had told him I was only 30 percent done, he would gloss over the tiny mistakes, knowing that I would correct them later. He would engage in broader conversations about what the product should be.”

Proof Pangs

Another common barrier to brilliance? Too much content. Creatives often provide many different deliverable options for single projects—creating multiple proofs and review rounds, and more opportunities for bottlenecks. While it might seem like different options will make it more likely for reviewers to make a selection they’re happy with, according to the Harvard Business Review’s analysis of the 2000 “Jam Study” on choice, just the opposite can be true: When too many options are presented, “the marginal benefits of added choice level off,” which means reviewers end up dissatisfied with everything presented.

Going back to the drawing board can feel really discouraging to your creative team—and additional review cycles can add to frustration. Instead, try to limit the number of options delivered at the end of a project to no more than three.

“Three gives me the opportunity to show fundamentally different approaches to the project,” said April Greer in a recent Millo.co article. “[It also] gives my clients the opportunity to choose (and mix and match) without hampering their ability to commit.”

Review and approval can be tricky to navigate for any creative team. But identifying your biggest barriers means you’re one step closer to knocking them down—and getting back to being brilliant.

Want more tips and tricks for removing the barriers to your creative team’s brilliance? Check out more resources from the workflow experts at inMotionNow, or visit our booth at Adobe Max 2016.

Ellie Baldini is the Content Marketing Manager at inMotionNow, a leading provider of workflow management solutions, including the company’s flagship SasS product, inMotion. Ellie draws on her experience working on different creative teams to share the benefits of workflow management with other creatives and marketers who want to do more of the work they love.

Elissa Dunn Scott

Elissa Dunn Scott

Elissa Dunn Scott is a Sr. Event Marketing Manager for Creative Cloud for Design at Adobe. In her free time, she enjoys hiking the Bay Area with her Black Lab, Indy and experimenting in the kitchen. She also enjoys the occasional road trip.

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