A good project brief can make all the difference

A successful project starts with a great brief, but all too often the brief is looked at as merely a step in the process. A checkbox to be filled before design starts.

What is a good project brief?

Simple, it's one that provides much needed context (including goals) and guides the team towards a solution. If you want great work to come out at the end of the process; you have to have great work at the beginning of the process.

The classic example to illustrate the importance of briefs is the Sistine Chapel (yes, there was a brief for that).

Below are a variety of different approaches that Michelangelo could've received. One of these is the real one.

1.) Please paint the ceiling

2.) Please paint the ceiling using red, green and yellow paint

3.) We've got terrible problems with our ceiling. Can you cover it up for us?

4.) Please paint biblical scenes on the ceiling incorporating the following: God, Adam, Angels, Devils & Saints.

5.) Please paint our ceiling for the greater glory of God, and as an inspiration and lesson to his people.

It's probably pretty obvious which is the real one. The last option (#5) is the brief he actually received. "Please paint our ceiling for the greater glory of God, and as an inspiration and lesson to his people." It states the task at hand, elucidates the goals and is inspirational. It includes the core elements of what makes a great project brief.

So remember, great work starts with a great brief.

Written by Adam Harrell on February 6, 2009

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