Some artists inspire us with their boundless creativity, they inspire us to be better people and to explore our untapped potential. Prince is that artist for many. His iconic album Purple Rain would catapult him to pop stardom, becoming one of the most beloved works of his career. Debuting in 1978 with For You, Prince would write 39 studio albums over three decades.

Prince related to others through his constant exploration of self-expression. His use of collaboration allowed him to realize his best art. He also saw that mistakes were not a sign of failure but a part of the process that would allow him to succeed.   

He knew all about organizational alignment and creativity and turned his exceptional and rare creativity into tangible results. But how does that apply to a corporate setting?

Here are four ways that Prince’s use of aligned creativity applies to you and your organization.

1) Brand Extension

For much of Prince’s work, he wrote the songs, played all the instruments, produced and arranged the tracks. He knew that by extending his talents into an array of areas that his work would reach new audiences.

Label executives thought Prince’s number of release-ready songs would oversaturate the market. This did not sway Prince. He knew he had amazing material and believed in it. His efforts helped launch Prince-derived bands such as The Time, Sheila E., The Family, Appolonia 6 and many others. Kenny Rogers also released a Prince-penned song.

By knowing the resources and ideas at your disposal, reaching your ideal or target market is possible. The mission and vision of your organization will develop further through brand extension.

2) Collaboration

As a standalone artist, Prince was exceptional. So, why did he collaborate? By bringing in the right people at the right time he explored possibilities and nuance and was able to produce unique results.

Prince wasn’t just a renowned songwriter and instrumentalist. He was also a producer for other musicians. We owe the classic pop hit “Manic Monday”, by The Bangles, to his ability at identifying and amplifying the talents of others.

You can see this in his backing band, the Revolution. Each member had their skills, insights, and talents, and Prince knew how to best use their strengths make the unforgettable anthems found on Purple Rain.

Better products come out of collaboration.

Involving finance, product development, and customer service leads to new insights. This can also involve bringing in different people from your organization. Employing the strengths of your collaborators can generate new opportunities, products, and outcomes.

3) There Are No Mistakes

Prince’s Song “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” which would appear on Sign O’ The Times is a great example of a mistake done right.

His engineer Susan Rogers brought in a custom mixing board to his home studio, made especially for Prince. There was a problem, though. However, Prince started recording on the new boards before it was fully set up, with the high-end frequencies not being available yet.  Prince heard the missing sound, but was undeterred and used that version for the album. The result? A moody song with distinctive bass-infused glam that has become a classic.

Realizing that mistakes propel us to learn and improve, they are no longer a source of fear or anxiety. Allowing yourself and others to make mistakes and fail leads to unexpected insights. Accessing and analyzing mistakes can act as a guide to bettering the process. It wasn’t a mistake; it was part of the journey.

4) Turn Raw Material into Something Coherent and Usable.

Prince could have been someone who had big dreams but never acted on them. Yet, he did access those big dreams. Prince was able to turn ideas into demos, songs, hits, and acclaimed albums thanks to his process.

You can turn knowledge, experience, and even failure into a viable product. The information acquired throughout the process can produce real results. Once the product meets or exceeds customer needs you have fulfilled your mission.The unbounded creativity has been finally harnessed into something both coherent and usable, improving your organization and enchanting your customers.

Prince was a distinct creative force in music and the arts and a savvy businessman. While his genius may never be fully understood, we can learn from his use of aligned creativity and organization.

His understanding that brand extensions could reach new fans was a foundation for his success. Collaboration allowed Prince to reach creative heights he could not otherwise realize. Prince also recognized that mistakes were not a sign of failure but a part of the process. Finally, he took all of his knowledge and experience and created something both coherent and usable.

Artists make remarkable products that touch hearts and minds. Similarly, organizations can reach new audiences when they work from a place of mission and vision.

Who inspires you? Likely they had their creative processes, failures, and output. We can learn from artists and their creative alignment ways to improve ourselves, our businesses, and our lives.


[Note] This post is derived from the podcast episode posted on December 9, 2020. The full audio episode can be found here.