Director at Incynq Solutions, Ron Olivier, on being in the principal's office, sending smoke signals & postal pigeons and using warthog wi-fi in the bushes of Nelspruit.

Please join this week in our Feedback Sessions us as Ron takes us through a light hearted look at his breakthrough project and his feedback process.

D.IO : So, tell us... Where are you at this current moment? Are you having coffee, stealing a moment in the office or perhaps a coffee shop?


R O : Totally stealing a moment! Waiting for the FTP upload process of a recently completed website to complete so I figured I may as well be doing something more stimulating while waiting ;-)


D.IO : What was the path that lead you to this career?

R O : To be honest, it really was a path. At the time I had no car - I walked everywhere I wanted to be in town. On my way to apply for a course in design I sat in the principle's office and discussed my needs. Upon presenting my portfolio of evidence, she raised her eyebrows to me and said "Because I can clearly see where you're headed I'm going to be honest with you; don't spend money and time on a course studying something you're clearly already good at". So she gave me the contact detail of a marketing company she knew, where I worked for 6 months to get a feel for the industry (specifically graphic design).


One afternoon I designed business cards for myself and had them printed... the rest is history.


D.IO : Tell us about the kind of projects you’ve been involved with in the past (brands you’ve worked on), projects you are currently working on and what future projects you have lined up?

R O : Wow what a blast to the past... Clients have included really stimulating portfolios from travel agencies to arts festivals. Probably my greatest break in the industry was getting the nod to do the visual direction for the InniBOS National Arts Festival when I'd only been freelancing for a year at the time. It opened great many doors for me...


D.IO : We hear that the creative process is complex and involves many stakeholders. How many people are involved in a typical project?

R O : Truthfully I'm a bit of a control freak and generally trust my own judgement on creative direction enough to complete a project in the wee hours while clients and my assistant are still sleeping - but on those days where I need some help, I reach out to non-stakeholders for objective opinions - anyone from my assistant to my god-daughter of 12 years old.


D.IO : Take us through the process you engage in when you receive a project. The different steps you take from the concept phase of a project to the execution.

R O : First, stretch legs and make coffee! Or better yet, head on over to office number 2 (the local eatery) and meet with the client in a vibey environment to thrash ideas about and draw some stuff on paper. There is nothing as productive as a concept with good leads and a clear brief.



D.IO : Is there a feedback process at any stage in the project? If there is, at what Stage

R O : Yes. All the time, actually. I prefer keeping clients in the loop of the process. Honestly though, clients are usually so excited to see what I come up with that I hear from them even as I'm busy typing out an email with attachments addressed to them!


D.IO : How helpful is feedback?

R O : Helpful. Even when feedback is destructive and demotivating, it helps. The only person who needs to be happy at the end of the day, is the client. I love my work, and I love being paid for doing my work well.


D.IO : Please describe your feedback process (from who initiates it, the responses, the amount of participation and outcome, any complexities that arise).

R O : Suddenly you're making me feel like I have it too easy! Hahaha! Generally this process is very simple, and limited to three people (the client, myself and my assistant - and mostly via email). I aim to hit the nail on the head with work on the first go (no, I'm not boasting - I'm just good at interpreting clients' needs really well by now :-) If I fail dismally at this high bar, I keep going with proof rounds and revisions until the client is elated…


Smoke signals, postal pigeons and warthog wi-fi (we pretty much live in the bush here in Nelspruit, so we need to make the most of all the tools at our immediate disposal ;-)


D.IO : Overall, is your feedback process effective? Please elaborate.

R O : With all these questions relating to feedback I fear I may be missing a mark in my industry! Nonetheless, I think feedback between myself and clients is effective, yes. I aim to communicate clearly, effectively and thoroughly on all fronts and in all mediums - this ensures as little uncertainty as possible. I like when clients know what to expect of a process.


D.IO : On average how many times do you go back and forth in the feedback process and what is the main cause of the back and forth?

R O : The main cause of back-and-forth is poor planning, and 90% of it lies with the client. I state this factually, not disdainfully ;-)


D.IO : Does the feedback process hamper creativity? Please elaborate on your answer.

R O : Absolutely! Wouldn't we all rather live somewhere with no networks or telephones, toiling away creatively and sending it off without expecting any feedback other than 'Wow!"


D.IO : How can your feedback process be improved? Describe your feedback process dreamstation?

R O : Haha! Ideally clients would have briefed me on what they need so well, that by the time I send proofs they immediately love what they see, read or hear - to the degree that signoff happens instantly!


Once we begin to peel away the layers of what it means to have a feedback process in place, its core truth is often met with pauses, awkward silences and hesitant contemplation.


Experience and professional awareness undoubtedly contributes to efficient creative development, which is great! However, it seems the feedback process and the structure of it (how it is given and received) is often overlooked... until you meet, that is, and begin to engage in discussions that trigger the realisation that you might “have it too easy” or make you stop and think... “with all these questions relating to feedback, I fear I may be missing a mark in my industry!”


Don’t get us wrong, our intention is not to cause uncertainty however, as Ron mentions, “Even when feedback is destructive and demotivating, it helps…” These sessions really are about sharing individual feedback processes and using this insight to inevitably break down the walls that exist when it comes to giving and receiving feedback.


Feedback, is not a rumble in the bushes to be feared, but a tool to be embraced if we are to truly produce outstanding work.


Thank you so much for you time Ron! It is always a delight engaging with you.


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