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Resolving production problems with designers

Answered by Marti Burton, President, Warthog Studios

Ms. Burton provides design and Web production services. She also offers efficiency consulting in the design and print production departments for corporations, design firms, and associations.

Warthog Studios is listed in PBO's Resource Center:

When there is a production problem, what is the best way to approach the designer?

It is always wise to be diplomatic in these situations. By that I mean, don't go storming into the designer's office and accuse them of messing up! Although this problem is costing big bucks and taking far more time than you had scheduled and, you've already been called on the carpet for the mistakes, anger will not solve the problem(s). Besides, you need the designer to help you fix the situation -- so, don't alienate anyone by flying off the handle.

Instead, take a deep breath and calm down -- then find a spot away from the designer's current projects to sit with them to review the job in question. Start positively by highlighting what you're satisfied with thus far, then explain the problem(s) that have occurred. Remember -- don't be accusatory.

Work in a positive fashion:

  1. Be sure you have gathered all the facts before engaging in the solution. Remember that you may not have been privy to other discussions along the design and production trail.

  2. Explain the problem as clearly as you can -- focus strictly on the facts -- not the "story" or what you "think" happened. Look at the workflow to determine where the mistake may have occurred.

  3. Identify the mistake in a few simple words or sentences and ensure that the designer concurs.

  4. Discuss what can be done to fix the immediate situation.

  5. Try to identify processes to put in place to ensure that this kind of mistake doesn't happen again.

  6. Never cover up mistakes. Take responsibility for your part in mishaps.

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