From 2006 to 2014, I taught at Stanford University. This is the story of one of the activities I used in the classroom. The activity is called Factory vs. Studio. It’s a live simulation in the classroom that helps students understand the importance of start conditions when they’re managing a team.
Here’s how it works. First you pick four people to work in the Factory and four other people to work in something called the creative Studio. They each get the same exact assignment: produce a children’s book for kids aged 3 to 7. The story has to have commercial appeal and merchandising potential.
A studio, not a company. When I think about a more grand vision for this overall thing I’m building every day, this is what I feel I want to build. I don’t want to wake up every day and go to the office — I want to go to the studio.
I hear “company” and think suffocating hierarchy and a dull, single-minded focus on profit. I hear “startup” and think underdog stories, empty hype, and forever chasing a carrot on a stick. But I hear “studio” and I think calm, open-ended creation — a place where your work is the goal in and of itself, and not just the means to another end.
This is probably an imperfect term for what I want, but it helps set my priorities straight: build first and the money will follow; work at your own pace; meander as needed; let life intermingle with “work” (in the artistic sense, not the job sense). At this point, all that’s really left to do is to keep creating.