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Mastermind Groups: a system for collaboration

A key strategy to grow the Creative Economy, as identified in Sir Peter Bazalgette’s independent review of the Creative Industries, was the formation of Creative Clusters. The formation of Mastermind Groups is an effective way to make clusters work.

The challenge if you want to contribute

Recognising that our sector punches well above its weight (we contributed £91.8bn to UK GVA in 2016 vs. the Automotive sector’s £19.6bn for example) and that creativity is infinitely exportable, the government has thrown its weight behind the programme with £80m in funding.

The diverse and individual nature of organisations in the Creative Industries undoubtedly drives success, but also presents serious challenges for anyone co-ordinating a cluster-wide effort to grow. Fully 94% of businesses in the sector are classed as “micro-businesses” (i.e. companies of 10 people or less). Competition is intense with agencies, based yards apart, engaging in hand-to-hand combat for corporate projects while the Arts vie for funding and sponsorship.

When I coach companies like these, lack of time is often the excuse for not working on the development of an owner's business. With financial pressures always present, it is easy to see what conspires to prevent people clubbing together with industry colleagues (and the competition) to contribute towards the slightly amorphous goal of “growing the creative sector”. I don’t question the will but it’s only practical for a very few players to allocate precious time and resource to a purely altruistic activity of “bringing together the UK’s renowned creative industries with arts and humanities led research from our world-leading university sector”.

Cynical? Maybe, but read on to find out how we can make a contribution as well as serving our own businesses in the pursuit of a common purpose – particularly one that serves society.

"Clustering" needs a Commercial Imperative

Although I witnessed first-hand the appetite for collaboration amongst the Bristol and Bath creative community, the key to securing the commitment of small business contributors to a sector-wide effort to grow, is to make it commercially compelling to do so. Spending time on the growth of your own business as well as that of the sector, is surely a win-win. Sustaining the commitment is facilitated by taking a systematic approach to the collaboration; one that becomes part of the strategy and day-to-day development of a business.

If the government’s strategy of clustering is to bear fruit, we’ll need to break it down a bit by creating smaller working groups within the key ones – “clusterettes” if you like.

Mastermind Groups provide the solution

There is an existing model for a systematic approach that is proven to be commercially beneficial. It’s called a Mastermind Group and follows a principle conceptualised the 1970’s (by Napoleon Hill) and used all over the world today in many different forms. A Mastermind group comprises businesses from the same or different sectors that don’t directly compete. This facilitates an openness about your problems and opportunities that allows for the collective intelligence, experience and action of the group’s other participants to be brought to bear in solving them.

The Groups themselves are made up of 6 to 10 separate companies and they meet every 4-6 weeks during the course of a Mastermind Year. At every meeting, each business can take a turn in the “Hot Seat” to get help with a problem or an opportunity. The rest of the group devote the allotted time to putting forward what’s worked for them or what they see from a different perspective. You instantly multiply your capability for solving things exponentially.

Such are the benefits that businesses readily pay monthly to participate in a professionally facilitated Mastermind Group, which in turn sustains attendance and ensures the ongoing effectiveness of the collaboration.

Contact me

...if you one to join one of my Mastermind Groups.


+44 7703209223

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