Creative teamwork: how to herd those cats

John Bates, Adjunct Professor of Enterpreneurship at the London Business School, identifies the main challenges and offers practical tips for making teams work in the creative sector.


John suggests seven key points for creative teams which I believe could also apply to any collaborative team working in a non-routine business project :

  1. Nobody Knows
    Unlike a production or operational team nobody really knows if there is going to be success at the end or not. This risk is often managed through options contracts. How do you get the team to fairly participate in the risk and reward?
  2. Art for Arts Sake
    It can be difficult to get creative people to recognise deadline and budget limitations. The leaders need to be skilled at managing multiple motivations.
  3. Motley Crew
    There are a huge amount of players to orchestrate, for example a symphony orchestra could be 75 strong, and you are only as good as your weakest link.
  4. Infinite Variety
    There are unlimited possibilities in terms of what to do and what to build. How do you decide what gets done and what gets left out? Also who decides?
  5. A-List/B-List
    Creative ventures can be very dependent on “star players” for whom there may be no substitutes. How do you stop a disproportionate amount of the power and therefore the created value leaking to these individuals?
  6. Time Flies
    Once the clock starts the budget begins to burn very quickly. These creative endeavours need exceptional project management to make sure they deliver something valuable before all the resources get consumed.
  7. Durable & Replicable
    Finally, although the process may be long and costly, the future potential value is totally locked within the creative end-product which may be cheaply replicated. How do you protect and realise this locked-in value?

In a previous article , What virtual collaboration can learn from the film industry, I referenced how virtual teams and networks could learn from the way the film industry organises and runs its teams.

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