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Dialing In Creative Culture

Every creative studio knows that promoting new, cool work is its lifeblood.

And if you follow me on Linked In or we get to spend time in person, you know I am not shy about sharing our work. But the bigger question I’ve pondered over the years is how do we go beyond ‘flash-in-the-pan’ success to sustained high levels of creative output ? I think that is definitely a portfolio piece worth exploring. Check out a few of our findings below:

  • Culture of Honor - We talk about this often in our studio and it’s proven to be foundational for team building. I watched the power of ‘honoring people’ in action during my days as an animator at CMT. I had an amazing mentor, James Hitchcock, who masterfully balanced a militant pursuit of awesomeness while still caring for and supporting the artists who did the work. It appears so simple and yet it is hard to walk out in real life. It shows up in the hard choices, in the trenches of ‘creative battle’ when taking care of the team may mean taking home less on the bottom line. But in the end, the loyalty and creative return is far greater. 
  • Be the Rung - Clinging to star players or trying to be everything for everyone creates more problems than successes. The fact is that healthy people change and grow. This means that some employees may need to find their next chapter elsewhere. When this happens, it doesn’t mean that Fivestone has failed. If someone needs to move on, my job is to be the rung. Celebrate their journey and support their next move. After all, I might find myself climbing that same ladder one day and hoping for a friendly hand to help me up.
  • Listen to the Intern - The best ideas can come from unlikely places. The surest path to stagnation is thinking that the C suite, or better yet, the CD, is the only source for breakthrough ideas. Have the humility, good sense, & curiosity to look beyond the limitations of your own thoughts.
  • Pursue Bad Math - Prior to starting Fivestone, I worked several years as a solo freelancer and discovered just how limited my creativity was when working in a vacuum. This is now my primary role -  trying to tweak culture and curate teams so that 1 +1 = 3 can happen. When we get it right, there’s nothing more magical than seeing creative output that is exponentially greater than the sum of a team’s individual efforts! 
  • Reinvent Regularly - This is a hard one. Reinvention sounds sexy as I tap the letters out on my keyboard, but the truth is it’s painful and expensive. Think about the amount of energy and effort a caterpillar goes through to fly. Most teams hate change because it’s hard and forces a choice between staying safe and facing the unknown. The reason Fivestone is here today after 15 years is because we continue to revisit what and how we deliver value to our customers, partners and employees.
NOTE: I want to give a special shout out to Carson Carr, one our resident AI gurus, who guided Midjourney to generate the beautiful header image for the article!    
The bigger question I’ve pondered over the years is how do we go beyond ‘flash-in-the-pan’ success and sustain high levels of creative output over long periods?
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