And after that fast strategy stuff, here's a quick guide to faster briefing.
There are two reasons it matters.
Firstly, the best internal way to get maximise nimbleness is to follow the three steps outlined before in a closed room with the people on the team that matter. As a minimum, that should be one account handler, on strategy type and one creative. These days, a comms planner an interactive specialist and perhaps a social media specialist could or maybe should be there.
The core three, and everyone else, should have done some knowledge gathering before, then pool their brains, not leaving the room until you've agreed those three steps between you (or at least the first two). It's then the job of account handling to make sure it's possible. It's planning's role to validate it and, with media/comms planning, pinpoint where it should happen. It's creative's/interactive/social /PR etc role to bring it to life.
You need a creative brief to summarise that BETA strategy and bring it to life for everyone. Not just because everyone needs a shared document to work from, also the act of precis and distillation forces you to tease any wooly thinking and contradictions out create a more seamless,simple and slightly better spingboard. It also provides the blue-print for a client presentationm which saves time too.
Secondly, the reality is that plenty of organisations still insist on a creative brief being written right at the start. That's kind of okay, especially if you use a 'task' based proposition and focus on the challenge or the barrier. For example:
"Make the reliabilty of Honda desirable instead of dull"
"Make Fox's biscuits famous for maintaining quality standards"
"Dramatise that ghd does more than straighten your hair, in fact it does what you want"
"Make the Market in Compare the Market famous enough to affect Google search"
It's also okay because the act of writing a brief forces your brain into gear, in fact it can help you develop your strategy as you go along.
The constriction of the boxes means that you can only write so much, and forces you to make the boxes fit together. The act of precis and constantly looking to connect disparate stuff enables you to go lightning fast as long as you're prepared to do the work.
1. Stay in your chair. Switch off anything that might distract, in fact, go somewhere to be alone. This is all about 'Flow', getting utterly lost in the task, the point where you are thinkin without thinking, that heightened sense of awareness that is also totally instictive. When you're finished, it feels like waking from a dream. That means you need to keep at it, get engrossed and don't let your mind wander.
2. Start. No messing around with post it notes or staring into space waiting for inspiration to come. Don't look at boxes and not know where to start. Just decide which box you can fill in first,it might be the objective, it might be audience, it might be support. Write it as well as you can.It might even be a proposition.
3. Look for connections. The act of writing one box forces you to think about other bits of the brief. Insight into the audience needs relevance to the overall objective, if you've written the objective first, it should already be sparking thoughts of what that means in human terms and writing about the audience first, their issues and what they care about suddenly makes you think of the context of the product/brand in their lives which should lead you to writing the support which, in turn should lead to a proposition.
4. Embrace Failure. Don't waste time writing perfect pithy prose, or being crisp and seamless. Get that first draft which is roughly consistent, roughly interesting and at least complete.Then look at what's wrong. Do it box by box. Keep chipping away. An amend to the support has implications for the rest of the box's or could turn the whole emphasis on its head. Keep going until you're happy. Don't stop until you are.
5. Get an editor. By now you're too close to it to be totally objective and you're brain is a little fried. You haven't got time for the overnight test, you need to get it to other stakeholders for sign off ASAP. So show it to someone who knows nothing about the project. From any department.They'll quickly point out what they don't understand, what interests them and what, on reflection might seem plain dumb.Consider, amend, edit, precis distill.
6. Don't wait for perfection. It's more important to be interesting and inspiring that 100% rigurous and right. Great work is rarely on brief, it's an evolution of that original springboard. Your time is better spent totally validating the final recommendation, not what inspired it.
In fact, a barrier to speed is getting people to sign off the damned thing. A great and sneaky tool for getting people agree a brief is to leave some room for them. Insert a couple of deliberate mistakes in it for them to amend and they'll feel like they'll have input and happily sign off a quickly edited document.
Hope that's useful.