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Top six production mistakes

When approaching the producer role there are a lot of things that go wrong. In this post I'm going to list the six most destructive things a producer can do.

Every good producer should have the goal of not being a bottleneck. To do so he must avoid fire fighting mode at all cost, but that is really hard. Pretty much every producer that are coming from the production lines taking on the production role will go through an evolution. The first staggering steps will exclusively be focused on fixing the problems that are right under the nose. As the producer matures he will realize that the same problems pops up over and over again. It's time to lift his eyes up and start fixing problems before they become a fire.

The longer he works as a producer, the farther ahead his eyes will be focused. 

Here are the things that I see as the common rookie mistakes as a producer, these are the things he needs to move away from to able to lift his gaze towards the horizon.

1. Viewing people as resources 

This is the most dangerous thing a producer can do. He puts himself in a mastermind position and expects himself to be able to use the resources optimally to produce the game as effeciently as possible. This requires a expert knowledge about every discipline, which no one has. The experienced producer will rely on the team members expertise to identify and solve the current problems. He will not see them as pieces in a gigantic jig-saw puzzle.

2. Not explaining why

A producer that cannot explain why the team is working a certain way usually doesn't understand it himself. Given the understanding for why, it is important for the producer to get the team onboard by explaining why, not only how. This way the ways of working are more likely to run by themselves, without the producer having to run the show. The producer can then focus his attention on improving ways of working in collaboration with the teams.

3. Tasking

The tasking producer most likely also see people as resources. It might seem like a great idea to continuously feed people with work, so that the team is dilligently moving forward. But as with point one this relies on perfect understanding of every problem in the development, which never is the case. The experienced producer will help the team by providing goals the teams can work towards. How to get to the goals are the teams' domain.

4. Managing communication

When the producer is acting as a courier to handle communication it's a sign of 1) a messy organization structure 2) lack of trust for the teams. The experienced producer will at all cost avoid being the middle-man, as this is a sure-safe way of becoming a bottleneck. 

5. Not celebrating

When the team meets their goals and deliveries as expected (or near), it is important to take a breather and celebrate. Without celebration of success development can easily become a death march where there is no sense of progress. 

6. Not pushing back

It's hard to say no, but that's one of the things a good producer must be good at. He needs to push back when designer are continuously changing their minds, when publisher are pushing for the impossible. The producer must accept the fact that quite often he will be seen as a pain in the ass by creatives and external partners, but he will be appreciated by the team for his efforts.

There are plenty of more things that a producer can fail in, but getting the things above right is a good step towards evolving past the initial stages of producing. 

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