How To Lead A “Creative Team”

creative-team

Ten years ago, when I first began creating High Voltage Kids Ministry curriculum, I remember being scared to death.  I had never tried ANYTHING like this before and had put it off for many years already.  You see, I had felt God leading me in this direction but wasn’t willing to take the leap.  When I finally decided to jump, I assembled a team of 10 of my best leaders in a room, and we proceeded to craft the very first High Voltage release, “Got Questions?”  It was a wonderfully collaborative process, and the end product was amazing.

When it came time to work on the second series, “BUGS”, I took a radically different approach.  I sat down in front of a computer and tried coming up with everything on my own – start to finish.  I wrote the lessons, the games, the video scripts, etc.  It took 4 times as long, and it was an excruciatingly painful process.  I realized through that experience – creativity flows much easier when it is done in community.

Now, every time we set out to do a new curriculum series (which is about every 6-8 weeks at this point), I assemble a Creative Team to help with the process.  I thought I would share some of the lessons I have learned as I have worked with my Creative Teams for the past 10 years.

When Working With A “Creative Team”:

 1.  Choose a creative location

The environment bears a lot on the final result of the creative team.  Choose a place that inspires creativity.  Sterile atmospheres tend to “dull” a team.  Choose a place to meet that has personality and energy to it. It needs to be a place free from distractions, though.  Creative people are often EASILY distracted.

 2.  Set some ground rules

You want your meeting to be “free flowing” without becoming a “free-for-all.”  Let the team know that they can share ideas freely without fear of being shut down.  However, tell them that the entire team has to agree not to purposefully crack jokes or make remarks that do not inherently add to the discussion.  Let them know that you will serve as the mediator when things get off track.

3.  Work as the rudder, not the engine

During the process, you want your team to feel a sense of ownership of the ideas.  Don’t come into the meeting with a list of ideas that you are already committed to.  It’s OK to come prepared with ideas, but only share them as they become necessary.

Allow everyone to share their ideas openly, without criticism.  Tell them, “There is no such thing as a bad idea.”  Now, there is no way to implement EVERY idea.  But, exercise caution before you dismiss an idea.  You don’t want to do so too quickly.  Sometimes one suggestion sparks another that leads you to where you ultimately want to go.

As much as possible, allow the team to come up with the ideas. Help steer them in the right direction.

4.  Deliver your ideas in the form of questions.

Rather than say, “Here’s an idea…”  Instead, present your ideas in the form of a question, allowing the team to react to it.  I remember when we were working on our series called “Five 4 The Fight” which focused on five scriptures dealing with Spiritual Warfare.  I had an idea that we needed to do a “boxing theme” with this series.  Well, instead of  walking into the room and announcing,“We need to do a boxing theme.”  I said, “We’re talking about spiritual attacks.  It’s you against the devil.  What’s a modern, tangible way that we can illustrate that one-on-one fight for kids?”  The team naturally gravitated toward Boxing (although one guy wanted to go the direction of WWE Wrestling, but we quickly passed that up, LOL).

Now, if the team isn’t moving forward and you want to insert your idea, you can even be more direct in your questions if you need to.  “Would boxing be a good metaphor for a one-on-one spiritual fight with the devil?”  Then, when the team begins to talk about it, they will start to feel ownership of the idea.  The creativity will flow much smoother that way than if you dictated what the topic was going to be.

 5.  Don’t be afraid to “table” the discussion

We all have deadlines.  Sometimes, there can be a LOT of pressure to not walk away from the meeting without ALL the creative ideas fleshed out.  Although it can be helpful to “press on” at times, other times it is better to just walk away for a period.  Take a break.  Go for a walk together.  Come back tomorrow, if you can.  It is often better to walk away to “sharpen the saw” than to keep trying to cut down the tree with a dull blade.  Meeting a deadline no-matter-what can often result in a poor product.  Don’t let yourself make that mistake.  Walk away, get refreshed, then return to knock it out.

Well, those are just five principles I use when leading my Creative Team.  Do you work with a team to help you in the creative process?  What are some of the things you have learned that you could share with this community?  Please LEAVE A COMMENT and share with us!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 thoughts on “How To Lead A “Creative Team”

  1. Great insight Brian! It’s so much more fun to do things as a team but I especially like points 2 and 5. Gotta keep everyone on track and don’t be afraid to wait.