How well should your creative team know each other?

The Broadway industry tends to be pretty insular . . . and the outside business world rarely pokes their head in our world to see what’s going on.

But when they do, it’s pretty fascinating.

Case in point:

An article appeared in Slate last week discussing the results of a study by social scientists Brian Uzzi and Jarrett Spiro, who jumped into our fray to get a better understanding of “How Creativity Works.”

They studied almost 500 Broadway musicals produced between 1945 and 1989 to try and determine what the optimum relationship should be in order to produce the most success.

Heady, right?

You can read the capsule results in the article here . . . but here’s the upshot:  they determined that if a team knows each other too well, they are more inclined to produce the same ol’ stuff they’ve always produced, and their material will lack innovation.  If they don’t know each other at all, well, it’ll be hard for them to literally get on the same page.

Makes sense, right?

I’m not sure if this article is going to alter how I look for creative teams, but it is a fascinating read (and if this subject interests you, you should buy this heck of a book that teaches lessons on how to be more creative).

And it did remind me of a trend that I’ve seen, that I’ve used and that I believe will continue to develop over the next decade.

We are living in the era of the community.  Every day we witness new ideas of groups of people coming together (in most cases, online) and finding power through the development of a community, whether that community is five people or five million.  Crowd-funding, meetups . . . the Arab Spring . . . are all examples of this new phenomenon.

The next step is to let a community create.


(Got a comment? I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)



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  • Elijah Barron says:

    Hello. I sent you an email also.
    My name is Elijah and I am a theatre student at the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts. We are currently doing a project on theatre jobs and I chose to do mine on the job of a producer because I’ve been watching too much Smash… I hope that you can answer some questions for me.
    1. Do producers even get paid?
    2. What shows have you worked on?
    3. What is the basic job of a producer?
    4. What problems do you face?
    5. And the things that you enjoy most?
    6. What is your advice for future producers?
    7. How do you work your way up to becoming a producer? Are there any degrees or experience required?
    8. What skills and character qualities are required?
    9. What is the usual work environment?
    10. How is life in New York?
    I know, they are really cheesy questions… 🙂

  • Kristopher says:

    A stage version of Ron Howard’s concept for “Imagin8ion” perhaps?

  • Michael says:

    Ken, that sounds like a wild dream.
    In any group mind the 80/20 rule pretty mych rules….

  • Becca says:

    First, you should always look to work with people that push and challenge you. We learn from each other. When you stop learning and/or stop feeling the need to learn that’s when you should get out. I think in the creative realm it’s harder to work with strangers because everyone is exposing their vulnerabilities and it helps to know that someone’s on your side. As long as you have people with similar sensibilities, they don’t have to know each other well to come together and work together well…but that’s what interviews and auditions are for, right?

  • Kile Ozier says:

    Though…..beware the Crossing of the Line into Creation by Committee. Rarely, rarely, rarely works (I’d say, “never,” ) and most often results in Creativity by Lowest Common Denominator… I’m about letting everyone in to contribute, and remembering that only one individual can actually drive…creative teams need a decision fulcrum….imho

  • Debbie Saville says:

    I believe Albert Einstein said it best…
    “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination…knowledge is limited, imagination encompasses the world”.
    How do I interpret this message?
    Let your imagination be the dream… let your heart transition the dream into reality. Because if you rely on results of a study based on social scientists, that knowledge may limit your ability to see what is possible.
    How does one actor on a black box stage with a single spotlight shining down captivate an entire audience? They are in the moment with their imagination creating the scene that come from the heart which connects to the audience.
    Now that’s creative team building 🙂

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