How to Build a Creative Culture

5. Get Them The Tools They Need – Nothing drags a creative team down as much as broken, old, or out-of-date tools. Sure we all have budget challenges, but do whatever you can to get them the right computers, design tools, video equipment – and whatever else they need. Think about it: The less time and energy they spend overcoming technical and equipment problems, the more time and energy they can spend on developing amazing ideas.

6. Push Them Outside Their Comfort Zone – Leaders often think that creative people want to be left alone and operate on their own schedule. Sure they like to create their own timetable, but they also relish a challenge. In fact, while they probably won’t admit it, creative people love deadlines because it gives them perspective on the project. I don’t even like to start working until I can see the deadline approaching. There is just something about a challenge that gets my blood flowing and the ideas coming.

7. Get Out Of Their Way – One of the most important aspects of a creative culture, once it’s in process, is to get out of the way of your creative team. We all know micro-managing is a disaster for anyone – especially creatives. So give them space and let them solve problems on their own.

8. Understand the Difference Between Organizational Structure and Communication Structure – This is a huge issue for me. Every organization needs an organizational structure. Who reports to who matters, and hierarchy is important. But when it comes to communication, I recommend you throw the organizational structure out the window. Your creative team should be able to call anyone to ask questions and discuss ideas. Don’t force them to communicate through supervisors, managers, or anyone else. Create a free-flowing communications system, and the ideas will grow.

9. Walk The Factory Floor – Leadership expert John Maxwell recommends that leaders “walk the factory floor” and meet every employee. Develop a personal relationship with employees at all levels – especially when it comes to your creative team. Pixar and Disney Animation President Ed Catmull takes that seriously – even when it comes to giving bonuses. When they produce a box-office success, they share the profits with the team that produced it – which often numbers more than 100 people. But Ed doesn’t just mail or direct deposit the check and send a nice note. Ed takes the time to either go to each team member personally or invite them to his office individually and hand them the check – and tell them how much their work is appreciated.

10. Give Them Credit – Finally, a great creative culture allows everyone to be noticed for their accomplishments. Never take credit for your team’s work, and always give them the honor they’re due. You’ll find that when you protect your creative team and allow them to get the glory for their work, they’ll follow you into a fire.


This article on how to build a creative culture originally appeared here, and is used by permission.

Get Phil Cooke’s new book and start building!