Pulling for the creatives

Very creative people don't fit into push systems. Managers either learn to pull for them or lose them. If a creative person's manager thinks s/he is difficult to manage, the manager continues to be a pusher. The manager fails to learn from his/her mistaken approach to bring out the best in the creatives. Last week I ran across two examples of people in control choosing to pull for the creatives.

On the occasion of his 100th blog posting, Roger von Oech interviewed David Armano, the high profile blogger of Logic + Emotion. David told the story of realizing how to pull for the creatives in their advertising agency. By learning from his own mistakes, he creates a context where learning and growing thrives on mistakes, misunderstandings and missteps:
RvO: What are the two biggest mistakes you’ve made in your profession?

DA: Not giving my teams enough “space,” and not managing peer relationships effectively. An effective creative director should excel as a facilitator. I wasn’t very good at this early on in my career and I’ve had to work on it. The mistake I made was using my teams as a production crew to execute my own ideas vs. cultivating an environment where they could come up with the idea while I helped refine them. I’ve learned that though project success is important—it’s also just as important that your team grow during the project. I have a better track record of managing both down and up vs. sideways. However, if you want to have influence your organization, you need to manage at all three levels. I’ve learned this throughout my career, but still find it doesn’t come naturally for me. So it’s a work in progress.

I watched the DVD of 25th Hour last week with the Director Commentary turned on. Spike Lee (director) mentioned that Edward Norton (lead actor) has developed a reputation in Hollywood for being difficult to work with. Spike Lee sees Norton as intensely creative and easy to work with. During the two weeks of rehearsal prior to shooting, he gives Norton countless opportunities to add his input. They discuss the different ways to play the character, deliver the underlying message, be true to the story and play off the other cast members effectively. In short, Spike Lee has learned to pull for the creatives when making a film.

Whenever we are giving learners control or pulling for the learners, we see the learners as creative and we pull for them. We are finding the right balance between structure and freedom or making learning more game-like, we are pulling for the creatives.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed the interview. It was fun.

    I liked your reference to the "25th Hour," a movie I enjoyed very much. I love Edward Norton's work (and Spike Lee about 2/3 of the time). What I especially liked about the film is that it was shot in NYC about 6 months or so after 9/11. That period was just long enough after the initial shock of the attack had worn off, but before the "return to normalcy" mentality set in.