5 Rules for a Creative Culture

by Ben Chestnut, Founder of Mailchimp

1. Avoid rules. Avoid order. Don’t just embrace chaos, but create a little bit of it. Constant change, from the top-down, keeps people nimble and flexible (and shows that you want constant change).

2. Give yourself and your team permission to be creative. Permission to try something new, permission to fail, permission to embarrass yourself, permission to have crazy ideas.

3. Hire weird people. Not just the tattoo’d and pierced-in-strange-places kind, but people from outside your industry who would approach problems in different ways than you and your normal competitors.

4. Meetings are a necessary evil, but you can avoid the conference room and meet people in the halls, the water cooler, or their desks. Make meetings less about delegation and task management and more about cross-pollination of ideas (especially the weird ideas). This is a lot harder than centralized, top-down meetings. But this is your job — deal with it.

5. Structure your company to be flexible. Creativity is often spontaneous, so the whole company needs to be able to pivot quickly and execute on them (see #1)

(via FastCompany)

9 Comments leave a comment below

  1. it’s pretty sad that this usually doesn’t happen in Asian co.

  2. Rule #1 is avoid rules. I like it.

  3. Great list :) got some comments/ideas…

    #1 – avoiding rules…ok. But have a compelling goal, yes?

    #2 – rock on! “Failure” is an opportunity to be more awesome!

    #3 – Wish more places would abide by this…I’d feel more welcome in creative industries…

    #4 – Nothing is a necessary evil, we choose to do or not to do things. For meeting, the things is keeping a focus on the compelling goal (see #1)

    #5 – Definitely. Be like a blade of grass – even in a strong winds, it may bend but still be robust enough not to break.

  4. 1. avoid rules, but be accountable
    2. promote entrepreneurial thinking, but be accountable
    3. DEFINITELY hire weird people, but dont be weird for the sake of being weird
    4. ditch the formal mtgs, respect time and have next steps defined
    5. love the blade of grass statement, above

  5. Best mantra I was exposed too in one of my pass work environment culture…STIR IT UP!

  6. @Xin i do not think this just relates to Asian co not encouraging creativity. Im in a US-based firm in Asia and sadly, it is far from creative. It is really more about the culture in the company, the people in it and the openness of management to new experiences, imo.

  7. @Nicholas i always do have the idea that european co. should be more opened to ideas thus encouraged more creativity. it seems like i’m mistaken. :)

  8. Rules are meant to be broken (or at least avoided at all costs). Creating room for change is difficult since one has to move out of one’s comfort zone. But no matter how agonizing and monumentally frustrating the journey of applied creativity is it is worth it in the end for you find your temporary grooves via a long search for what suits you and you alone. Each (wo)man is an individual in his/her own right. And that means that in their minds all in(divide)uals are free to be whosoever they want to be. Thought is unrestricted ground. And it goes on and on forever and forever. The things of this world will end but thought…no siree!

  9. I agree that rules are meant to be broken but I think that much of the time rules are meant to be used as a guideline that one can then tailor to suit themselves further,