Finding A Path: So where can a creative manager, a leader of an organization dedicated to creating, find a way to grow beyond the original founders and the chaos associated with creative expression? There are a few tools and guide posts to keep in mind.
Keeping Your Vision Alive & Building Spirit
This is all about staying in touch with each and every person within an organization. It means walking the floors, sitting in meetings, and telling stories. Yes, telling stories. The best way to show a creative organization “the way to think” is by sharing experiences. Not in an overpowering way, but in a way where the stories fit into the moment, where they give a clear example of the how's and whys of a situation.
Vision is all about wrapping an organization in a blanket of sincerity and connective-ness. It is less about hammering the heck out of it. I remember a situation where the CEO of a company wanted a marketing communications organization to act less “wacky” and more like an accounting group.
He hammered and yelled at the creative management, “stop them from coming into work in denim, stop them from playing football in the halls, stop them from…” He had a vision of the organization that had no room for creative disruption. In the end, he had the opposite result. It just angered the creative spirit of those in the communications organization. They rebelled, big time. My favorite was the presentation that the creative team did on types of denim and the comparison of denim vs. chambray fabric.
What was needed was an honest and open sharing of the vision and values the CEO was looking for. Even letting the creatives see a weakness or by creating empathy based on the fact that the CEO was getting pushed by the other business units who were screaming at him “it’s not fair, why do they get to do whatever they want???”
If he had woven a story that the creative organization could relate to, then a compromise could have been reached. Instead, there was 98% turnover in the organization, causing disruption and unbudgeted costs. In the end, the CEO and management team got what they wanted – but at what cost in time, effort and spirit? Remember, not a hammer but a velvet embrace!