Leading Creative Teams
Without rival, one of the most difficult leadership roles I have ever had is leading creative teams, and I’m a life-long creative! In this post, I will explore these challenges and offer some remedies that have helped me in my 30-year career journey leading others. There is a lot of material on leadership available and I fully support many of these best practices for general leadership. However, I have found less information available on leading creative teams; I hope you find this information helpful!
What’s the Difference?
Let’s start by examining the differences between creative and non-creative teams. I would categorize “non-creative” roles as those whose primary delivery, action, or existence is inherently not a creative function or part of a project. That’s not to say that these team members aren’t creative individually or actually perform their tasks by applying creativity… Let’s use an engineer as...
The individual parts are greater than the whole
The Themed Entertainment Industry is a broad and wonderfully complex world that offers incredible escapism, imagination and emotional connection. It also feels like the projects we undertake to build these experiences are equally complex, vast and definitely generate emotion! Telling dimensional stories to one of the widest demographic of visitors of any market in the world and creating them to perform 365 days a year for 15-18 hours a day without diminishing the experience is a very tall order indeed!
Highly specialized, interdisciplinary team work for years to create and build these experiences with multiple layers of detail. There are many educational materials available to inform the curious how these experiences are dreamt-up and delivered, however, there doesn’t seem to be much discussion on the dynamic, collaborative teams and their culture that is created to foster these awesome achievements. The first step is to...
Positive Tension. Just like there are two poles on a battery, you need both charges to make energy. The same is true on a project team. The participants of a project have sometimes fundamental different objectives, although sharing the same goal. It takes a very diverse team of professionals to deliver the type of complex experiences we create in the themed entertainment industry. For example, the creative team members are focused on innovation, dreaming up the impossible, and are focused on taking risks to deliver something that has not been done before.
The project delivery team members, on the other hand, share the same overall goal of delivering a unique experience for guests, and approach it with a different set of criteria: they are fundamentally risk-averse, cost-conscious, and schedule-driven. Much of their success is measured through strict adherence to processes. Although many other subject matter experts participate in a project, these two categories are the most obvious...
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