The successful completion of a long-term project hinges on the solid direction of the overseeing managers—no project ever came to the desired fruition through poor direction. So much rests in the hands of the project managers, who are often tasked with multiple accounts or projects, that we have developed a specific process that drastically reduces the headaches a project can bring.

There’s a story about two men. One was older, wizened by his years spent studying the world surrounding him and the laws which governed it. The other was a young man, and his sole focus was on his task before him—consequences were of no particular interest to him. The two men met in the town centre one day. It was an unusually hot summer afternoon, so they took to the shade under a magnificent, sprawling tree that grew from the very centre of the town square. This tree was recognized by all the villagers as the oldest tree any of them had ever seen—and it was beloved by them too, as a symbol of their town. The only problem was that this was the only tree of its kind. It was so rare that none of the villagers knew how to grow another one like it. The men admired the tree, its strong branches and vibrant leaves. The young man said it was indeed a magnificent tree, its strength is apparent. The old man agreed, indeed it is strong. So the young man jumped up and brought his friends back to the tree, compelled by an idea: cut down the tree and build shelter out of it for shade. They did exactly that. But when the summer grew even hotter and a storm ravaged the shelter, they were left with no cool place to relax. The young man went to the old man to consult him as what to do. “Too bad the only magnificent tree was cut down,” the young man said. “We’ll surely fry to death in the sun.” The old man agreed and told the young man to sit beside him. The men waited for days. Just as the young man was ready to leave in exasperation, a tiny green leaf sprouted out of the earth. Then another sprung up and another—magnificent new trees. “How could you have known?” the young man asked. The old man smiled. “There was never anything wrong with the tree. It drops its seeds and they sleep for a hundred years before beginning their own life. The storm woke them up. I simply watched and learned what was happening.”

Although there are few wily, wizened men at Radii, we’ve implemented a project phase based on the parable’s idea: that to ensure the success of a project, it is crucial to watch and learn what needs to happen. This is the Discovery Phase.

This is the phase that marks the creation of truly great projects.

When a project begins, we start off with the Requirements Phase, in which we learn the scope, content, timeline and audience that will be involved in the work and its reception. The Discovery Phase comes immediately after the Requirements Phase, during which time we go deeper into the project and discover which advantages could be applied to best benefit a client. Unfortunately, it’s most often overlooked by other production companies simply because, like the young man, gaining the necessary information to begin a project well takes time. However, we’ve found that it actually helps save time by preventing unnecessary problems during the course of the project, just as the young man could have saved his time and effort with a little patience and the willingness to pay attention.

How it Works

After the requirements have been gathered, the Discovery Phase brings in more collaborations with a steering committee. Forming this committee is key to successfully drive a project as it determines where the project is coming from and where it’s going. It also allows us to get to know our clients, their previous experiences and what they want and need out of the project. In this phase priorities are assigned and technologies are determined—so we’re able to have a better understanding of which calls should be made once the project is in full swing. After these determinations have been made, we move on to the actual development of the project.

Serving as a buffer, this phase helps prevent miscommunications and ease project management because any potential trouble items are flagged early on, minimizing the amount of changes needed once the development is underway. It also functions as a framework so that the design and development teams can move quicker, and there’s less back and forth between the client and the project manager—the client simply receives what they asked for, right the first time.

This is why we talk with our clients, not at them. The Discovery Phase is an excellent benchmark to begin a successful project everyone will be pleased with, and like any project conducted with a solid foundation, it begins and ends with conversation. Ideas are shared, plans are brainstormed, content is collaborated, and the nature of the project is discovered. From there, we just do our jobs, watching the project grow.