17 Tips and Tricks for Managing “Creatives”.

It’s the battle of the business publications!

In this corner, we have the Harvard Business Review, who in April published “7 Rules for Managing Creative-But-Difficult People.”

And in the opposite corner, weighing in at “10 Tips,” we have Fast Company, who countered with their contrarian article, “10 Tips for Managing Creative People,” and called out Harvard for being . . . well . . . Harvardy.

So who will win this tip-off grudge match?


Because below you’ll find the links to both the HBR and the FC article . . . so you get the combo pack of 17 Tips and Tricks for helping to manage your artists/creatives or “theatricals,” as the old fancy hotels that deny them rooms used to say.

One of the primary responsibilities of a Broadway Producer or an Anywhere Producer is to make sure your artists are happy, have the tools they need, and are playing well with others.  As I sometimes like to say, a Producer’s job is to make sure there’s enough sand in an artists’ sandbox.  And that they’re not punching the other kids in the face while they “play.”

It could be one of a Producer’s most important jobs.  And it could be one of the most difficult.

Which is why Broadway folk need 17 tips instead of 7.

Click below to read each article.

The reigning champion:  Harvard’s 7 Tips

The challenger:  Fast Company’s 10 Tips


And then, comment below on which publication you think got it right, or give me one of your own.  I know you’ve got some.


(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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  • Elisa Christina Clayton says:

    Wow! Gag me with a spoon! The Harvard 7 Tips were the biggest bunch of BS and truly underscore the adage “those who don’t do teach!”

    I am a PMP certified project manager among other things, and in a former life managed multi-million dollar video post-production and website design/development engagements for IBM’s Innovation Center (i.e. The NBA Store was one of my biggest clients).

    That said, at the Innovation Center we considered “Fast Company” a reliable trade magazine for our industry and in this case their tips are far superior to those purported by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic on behalf of Harvard.

    Also, I am creative and I find it relatively easy to manage creative people. I’ve mentioned it before in a previous comment many moons ago, but in addition to the tips in the Fast Company article, I find parallel thinking, as explained by Edward de Bono in his book “Six Thinking Hats,” one of the best tools for managing projects full of creatives because that method doesn’t stifle or inhibit creativity.

  • Kyle Abraham says:

    Fast Company had better tips.

  • Marc Zegans says:

    Elisa’s comment reminded me of the old adage, without the H, it’s all BS. Premuzic’s seven rules come from a place of disdain for “creatives”, who are “other” than the presumably wise, capable managerial types who must control these creatives, by keeping them,albeit loosely,on a leash. That’s one strategy; but Beckett, by giving us Lucky and Pozzo, elucidated it first and far better, and by placing their relationship in broader context gave us its pain, irony and limitations. Playwrights, producers and directors know far more about fostering stunning creative effort among talented groups of players and members of craft guilds than enterprise possibly can, or likely ever will. Our tradition is deeper and our need for flowering much the greater. So let’s use Ken’s fine offer to to share our own best practices and to discuss how to move beyond them; perhaps one day, an enterprising business blogger will begin a conversation about what enterprise can learn from theater, and if not, “more’s the pity. Thanks Ken for opening a fine conversation.

    • Marc Zegans says:

      P.S. The Fast Company piece’s premise and the ten tips from the add agency it presents are far better, human, warm, focused on the individual, concerned with culture, democratic, and focused on both fostering and sustaining collaborative creativity.

  • Chris Lucas says:

    The Harvard article almost dripped with contempt for the “creatives” as if we were less deserving of rewards than the entrepreneurs (going as far as to suggest we would appreciate being paid less.) Fast Company saw us as human beings with unique traits, but no less important to the health of a project then those with sharper business skills. (not that business savvy and creativity are mutually exclusive – exhibit A: Ken Davenport.)

  • Randy says:

    The HBR article states, “higher external rewards impair performance by depressing a person’s genuine or intrinsic interest.”

    People go into the arts, no doubt, motivated by a deeply intrinsic interest. However, the suggestion that higher remuneration dampens that interest, in my experience, is completely off base. When I booked my first Production contract (a tour in 1999) and I was handed that first paycheck, I took one look at that net pay and thought, “Damn. I better live up to this. I need to prove that I am indeed worth this salary.” The money did not depress my intrinsic love of what I do. Though I was already out to prove myself after 5 years of auditions, theme parks, children’s theatre, and summer stock, this unprecedented salary did sharpen my focus a bit more and kept me really on top of my game. I was working with a number of very talented vets and I wanted them to accept me as one of them.

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