How to Capitalize on Evolving Cultures in Creative Businesses

Business owners can no longer command and control their employees. Today, it’s all about the team.

[Article first published in Business Collective]

The inherent complexity that underpins today’s digital products seems to have put an end to the age of the arrogant leader with the killer instinct. In past decades, it was this person who ruled so many creative businesses. During this time, there were only a few crafts that came together to make a magazine, an ad, a film or a product. There was time for the individual genius to conceive and perfect the work that would have her name on it and make her famous. But this command-and-control business culture has fallen out of fashion.

Lately, I am seeing that the individual star has been replaced by “the awesome team.” Recently I proposed that a company’s senior creative leader should aim to create work that would make him proud and famous. I was firmly told by talent management that the company might not be happy if he became famous. Are creative shops now playing whack-a-mole with their budding superstars?

With the multiple moving parts that even the simplest products require, there is little room for the private vision to be brought to life. So many components have to work together seamlessly and apparently effortlessly. Tens — even hundreds of specialists — have to function as a single creative organism. Unless this hive works together, the whole thing will come tumbling down. 

Previously, ambitious creatives aspired to work for a star on their way to becoming one themselves by doing their own great work. That was their motivation. Now, everyone needs to be working together selflessly. A corporate culture provides the medium: an environment that guides our interactions, that rewards collaboration and mutual respect. It has to be based on transparency because each tiny step can have huge ramifications at some yet-to-be-discovered node in the process. Since we have taken away the platform for individual fame (unless you escape to start your own venture and eventually to create your own hive), companies have had to design a warm culture to keep everything running smoothly.

Here are a few real-world ideas to prompt your own solutions:

  1. Cast your team thoughtfully. Hire people who contrast…  Read more