Controlling creative people appears to be a popular topic in the mainstream media nowadays. Following on the heels of Harvard Business Review’s incendiary article “Seven Rules for Managing Creative People”, Bloomberg Businessweek has published a short piece titled How to Manipulate Creative People. Unlike the HBR article which sounded as if it was written by someone who had never met a creative person in their life, the Businessweek piece (which is part of their annual how-to issue) is written by Matt Selman, an exec producer on The Simpsons who has run the writers’ rooms for over a decade.
Agree with what he says or not, Selman’s advice clearly stems from experience:
If your team is still irritated with you, badmouth anyone not in the room. Dumping on an unseen third party or revealing tantalizing office gossip always takes the heat off for a few minutes. Though if you’re going to make fun of people who work for you, be prepared to be made fun of by them. No matter how mean it gets, have the thickest skin in the room. Reward the completion of assignments with YouTube clips: Key and Peele, octopus vs. shark, bank robbery fails. If nothing else works, stall till lunch. It’s hard to be full and angry.