THE SOULS: A Creative Playground

The Beatles … The Perfect Creative Dynamic

BY IN The Souls

A creative friend once told me about a novel, Fortress of Solitude, in which a character poses the following theory: To build the perfect creative team dynamic, look only to The Beatles.

The theory—although fictional—always stuck with me. Given my years of building creative teams, I can’t help but believe that there’s a lot of truth behind it.

Essentially, all group dynamics can be understood in terms of the relationship between The Beatles. If you want to build a supernova creative team, you must fulfill the following 4 arch-types. In other words, each team needs its own John, Paul, Ringo and George.

    • Responsible-parent (Paul)
    • Genius-parent (John)
    • Genius-child (George)
    • Clown-child (Ringo)

Parent guides the team and calls the shots, with Child being less willing to be held accountable. Genius signifies ultimate and original creativity, while Clown provides the necessary playfulness needed to imagine.

All roles are catalysts to each other and necessary to inspire mind bending artistry, kind of like a creative dream team.

If I could pick one (this is something you’re born into, not assigned), nirvana would be Genius-parent—this is the person the group centers around and most recognized for original creative thought. Responsible-parent enables Genius-parent to be amazing (otherwise Genius would float away in a tangential bubble). Clown half-man/half-child reminds people not to take themselves so seriously, and reaches beyond perceived borders. Genius-child is a gentle genius, quietly observing the world, illuminating concepts with their own special glow.

If a role is missing or if one arch-type secretly (or aggressively) desires to be another, it will destroy the cohesive whole. Think of why The Beatles broke up. One could argue that Responsible-parent (Paul) wanted to be the Genius-parent of the group. Though Paul is amazingly creative in his own right, it’d be hard to argue that he’s on the same plane as John. And of course, Yoko didn’t help things either! But even that works within the theory. Yoko, in many ways was another Responsible-parent to John’s Genius.

I’ve built teams using this theory as inspiration. Diligently work towards harmony and balance so that each role is fulfilled at all times. It’s important that each person know his/her’s own role to avoid meltdowns, and equally necessary that they don’t become a caricature of that role (if that happens, then they’re not ready to belong to this elite team). And as with The Beatles, a group’s magic may be finite (as a team), so remixing may be necessary at some point.

But once you have it right, stand back and watch the fur fly. Given its namesake’s success, arguably one of the most creative groups of all time, in any genre.

It’s fun to try it out on your own teams, family/friends or pets. Better still, try and build one around the theory! I welcome any (genuine) comments via your own mad-scientist experimentations.

Within the book, you’ll find the other characters challenging the limits of the proposed theory.

Below is a short, summarized excerpt…

Dylan’s friend Linus Millberg appears out of the crowd with a cup of beer and shouts, “Dorothy is John Lennon, the Scarecrow is Paul McCartney, the Tin Woodman is George Harrison, the Lion’s Ringo.”

“Star Trek,” commands Dylan over the lousy twangy country band playing between sets.

“Easy,” Linus shouts back. “Kirk’s John, Spock’s Paul, Bones is George, Scotty is Ringo. Or Chekov, after the first season. Doesn’t matter, it’s like a Scotty-Chekov-combination Ringo. Spare parts are always surplus Georges or Ringos.”

“But isn’t Spock-lacks-a-heart and McCoy-lacks-a-brain like Woodman and Scarecrow? So Dorothy’s Kirk?”

“You don’t get it. That’s just a superficial coincidence. The Beatle thing is an archetype, it’s like the basic human formation. Everything naturally forms into a Beatles, people can’t help it.”

“Say the types again.”

“Responsible-parent genius-parent genius-child clown-child.”

“Okay, do Star Wars.

Luke Paul, Han Solo John, Chewbacca George, the robots Ringo.”

“Tonight Show.”

“Uh, Johnny Carson Paul, the guest John, Ed McMahon Ringo, whatisname George.”

“Doc Severinson.”

“Yeah, right. See, everything revolves around John, even Paul. That’s why John’s the guest.”

“And Severinson’s quiet but talented, like a Wookie.”

“You begin to understand.”


Beatles Staircase, Liverpool England. Photo by Leshaines123 Flickr.


5 years ago / Comments




I’m the creator and founder of several Portland-bound companies—from the old Curiosity Group and Scout Creative, to the newly spun off Crush Creative and its sister company, Foto Crush (our stationery and photo card product line). The Souls blog series is based on my love of all things creative.

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