Kenny Dalglish was one of the best players in the country.

He was coming to the end of his playing career, but Liverpool wanted him to play a few more seasons.

So to hang onto him, they agreed to train him to be a manager while he played.

He became, in effect, a player-manager.

On TV,  one of the commentators asked him how he was getting on.

He said, “I’ll know I’ve got the team right when I can’t get on it.”

For me, being a creative director is like that.

You’re effectively a player-manager.

You’ll know the creative work is right, when you couldn’t have done it better.

You get promoted to creative director because of the quality of work you’ve done.

But you can’t do the work on every account.

So you’ve got to see which accounts you could have done better.

Then work on those.

Don’t just pick the plum accounts for yourself.

That won’t make the department better.

Give everyone else a chance first.

That is if you want to get the standard of the whole department up..

Tell your department to be prima donnas.

Not to be reasonable and do what the account men and planners want.

Not to do dull work purely to hold an account.

Tell them the only person entitled to do dull work to hold an account is the creative director.

The creatives shouldn’t do dull work unless you ask them directly yourself.

They should be selfish, but the creative director shouldn’t.

I see the CD as the big centre-forward, playing with his back to the opposition goal.

It’s his job to bring the ball down and lay it off to whichever striker’s in the best position to score.

The strikers’ job is to stick it in the net.

No excuses.

You need to know who can do great work, but is being stopped by the system.

And who can’t do great work, and is using the system as an excuse.

Then you can restock your department accordingly.

And build a department capable of better work.


You’ll know you’ve got the team right when you can’t get on it.