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  • Lyn Heward: Technology exists in order to support or enhance human performance, but never to replace it entirely. The computer will never replace the creativity of the human being

Lyn Heward: Technology exists in order to support or enhance human performance, but never to replace it entirely. The computer will never replace the creativity of the human being

Cirque du Soleil is a company with a worldwide vision that encourages the participation and creativity of all its artistes, technicians, designers and employees. By passing through seven imaginary doors we will discover together the keys to creative transformation, as well as the limitations, the challenges from outside, cultural differences and the expectations of consumers being transformed into creative catalysts, and how impassioned directors cultivate the potential of their their teams.

  • Lyn Heward
    Lyn Heward
  • Lyn Heward

First Door: Great Expectations

  1. It is my firm belief that everyone has a well-spring of creativity within them… It’s all about practice.

  2. Every encounter, every situation offers us a creative opportunity.

  3. We all have desires, we all have dreams and we’re all searching for something.


Second Door: Awakening your senses!

And so, not unlike an artist or a child, the second door leads us to surrender to our senses, to live an experience and develop our intuitive instincts.


Third Door: The treasure hunt and creative transformation

Successive generations of artists, designers, artisans and technicians have served to shape Cirque. The question is how do you capitalize on the remarkable, but highly divergent qualities of these distinctive groups in order to create new entertainment hybrids and build a successful business?

At Cirque we don’t do talent identification per se.  In fact our casting department serves two distinct purposes:  firstly, to scour the world for ideas and inspirations which become the driving force behind our creative process and secondly, to cast a line for talented individuals who will ensure the artistic and creative richness and longevity of our shows. In fact, we are treasure hunters searching for the most precious of pearls! We hire not for who they are now, but for what they might become.

So we’ve found the talent, what happens next?  We call this creative transformation. As an individual or an artist and especially as a creative leader or manager this means:

  1. Working outside of our comfort zones.

  2. Trying something different and taking risks.

  3. Never repeating yourself.

  4. Applying inventiveness or creativity to everyday tasks and problems.


Fourth Door: A nurturing environment

As leaders in entertainment and in business one of our most important responsibilities is to design and build a nurturing environment which is conducive to productivity, creativity and personal growth.

At Cirque the ideal working space is a fantastical playground, which although it may have many rules, is a place where a designer, an artisan or an employee can see the world through the eyes of a child, that is, with curiosity, eagerness, excitement and playfulness. It has an open and inviting atmosphere which stimulates creative thought and action and which takes into consideration that:

  1. It’s difficult to be creative in isolation.  True creativity requires stimulation and collaboration. 

  2. It’s important for all team members to be reminded of their ultimate goal, the product, and to feel a strong sense of responsibility for its success or failure.

  3. And finally, the physical structure and decoration of this playground are both stimulating and inspirational… something of which the employees can be proud. 


Fifth Door: Creative catalysts 

It is common knowledge that Cirque designers don’t like budgets, deadlines, and limited resources. Privately however, even they will admit that these ‘constraints’ force us to become more resourceful and more creative!

Having said that, it’s also important to be influenced by what is happening outside of your organization and to respond to other worldly stimuli.When the world needs hope, we must provide it.  When the world is troubled by terrorism, water pollution or violence in youth, we must set an example, lead the way and incite change. 

We also have to understand how cultural differences affect the course of our creative products. At Cirque we have learned to take inspiration from the well over 60 different cultures which co-exist within our organization.  Each person brings at least part of his own culture to the creative table and these elements become our cultural assets:  Brazilian percussion and capoeira, Australian didgeridoo, Wushu, Peking Opera and Kung Fu have all found their way into our multidisciplinary shows.  All of these cultural imports contribute to and enhance our products.

And finally, we need to take into consideration the needs and expectations of our consumers. The vast majority of the audience wantto be amused, to be surprised, if not astounded, and to escape from their daily lives if only for a short while. And  a few want to be moved or touched, to be somehow changed by the experience or to see greater potential in oneself and perhaps even to see the world as a better place in which to live.


Sixth Door: Taking risks

Creativity is, first and foremost, all about courage, a willingness to take risks, to try new things and share the experience with others. In fact, as an individual, as a company or as a producer, complacency is the biggest risk you will ever take, and most often the least productive.

Cirque’s entry into new types of shows, the worlds of television, film and merchandising has been marked by a few successes, some errors and a lot of learning about how we are perceived publicly and how we should proceed in the future. One of our most recent successes ‘outside of the box’ is the playful and somewhat whimsical clothing collection that has emerged from our partnership with the Spanish design team of Desigual.  

Seventh Door: Retaining the freshness of team work

One of the biggest challenges a creative leader has to face is how to keep the product ‘fresh’ and how to keep the troupe motivated between big projects. 

  1. At Cirque we say that a hard-working boss is the best model, particularly when there is a relatively young employee base. People do notice what the boss is doing and how he/she  is contributing to the creative process. 

  2. He or she is constantly encouraging and receiving employees’ ideas and feedback in a concrete fashion.

  3. He or she also accepts that there are often different ways of getting to the same end result. It’s a question of ‘creative ownership’.

  4. As an employee, designer or leader you have to commit yourself to looking critically at your work or your product from an outside perspective, from the point of view of the consumer. 

  5. Staying connected with your end productalso means supporting its ongoing research and development over the long haul and continually questioning its relevance in today’s ever-changing world. Does my product still fit the demands of the market?

  6. And finally, by exposing your employees to your product: seeing the show, wearing the clothes, driving the car! You encourage their sense of ‘ownership’, cultivate their pride and share your success with them.


And this, my friends, is my personal challenge to each one of you, because you, too, can make a creative difference in your organization, in your team and in your life!



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