In the hectic day-to-day world of advertising, it's rare to get a chance to step away from the constant phones, meetings and emails and think a little deeper about how we work, or how we could work better. So when two of us were selected to join 36 other delegates from JWT offices around the world for a week of Craft Skills training we were delighted...and perhaps a little nervous!

Our hosts were JWT Dusseldorf, home to the European Mazda account – and our challenge was to apply insights and our JWT tools to deliver a full communications plan for the brand. We knew we were going to be part of a very 'hands on' experience, gaining huge insights into proprietary JWT tools and methods of working on real accounts.

The first session was designed to help us gain a greater understanding of our own personality type – a great way to both break the ice with our global colleagues!  A better knowledge of ourselves – how we manage stress, how we value the diversity of working styles, how we carry out different roles – to help us work better, and build better client relationships.

Our brief was set by the Head of Mazda Europe, introducing those who hadn't worked on the account to the brand and what they wanted our campaign to achieve.  After that, it was about soaking up as much information as we could from Global Planning Director Shekhar Deshpande before using JWT tools to develop a Creative Brief, and then trying to answer it!

The process introduced us to tools like "Brand Sparks" – a series of prompts in playing card form which introduce new ways of thinking and idea generation, and it was really interesting to see how different teams tackled the project (at it's most basic, the teams with a lot of creatives tended to cover their walls with ideas, while teams with a lot of client service personnel preferred to use a flip chart!).

By the end of a very intense week, the room was a mix of exhaustion, excitement, nerves and pride – everyone presented with a sense of achievement, and it was fascinating to see the solutions other teams had reached for the same brief!

JWT is currently celebrating 150 years of success, and these Craft Skills sessions show clearly how the agency group is aiming for another 150!  It was an amazing experience, learning how to use JWT tools, developing creative insights and ideas, working with people from the worldwide JWT community and – most importantly – bringing home skills which will benefit our own clients here in Ireland.

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