One of my most popular blog posts ever here on Innovation Excellence was on extreme creativity lessons from the TLC reality TV series “Cake Boss” starring Buddy Valastro and his cake baking family at Carlo’s Bakery. New “Cake Boss” episodes started last week on TLC, so it is time to share five more extreme creativity lessons culled from a recent Cake Boss marathon I watched one afternoon.
1. Know when to push for more innovation even when it seems you do not need more innovation.
In the previous “Cake Boss” season, Buddy Valastro was in the midst of remodeling and building a major new baking facility for Carlo’s Bakery. Buddy knew with the bigger expectations the enormous facility would create for the business, he had to step up his creative game. Even though Buddy’s cakes display rampant extreme creativity, he was on a mission to come up with major new cake designs to stay in front in cake innovation.
2. Drop a big creative assignment on your team then get out of the way.
To create the innovative cake designs Buddy envisioned would dramatically update the cakes in the Carlo’s Bakery catalog, he envisioned some type of creative competition. Buddy assigned everybody in the bakery to create new cake ideas, but rather than stick around and potentially be a creative crutch for people, Buddy made the assignment and left. As a result, everyone in the bakery had to grow creatively to deliver innovative new cake designs.
3. Do not lose sight of applying creativity to a business objective.
When creating the new innovative cakes for the Carlo’s Bakery cake catalog, one baker designed a blue cake topped with cupcakes. He knew the cake was simple, eye-catching, and would sell well because of the cupcakes on top. The belief it would sell like crazy was exactly why Buddy selected the cupcake cake to be included in the catalog.
4. Make sure you have go-to extreme creative people available.
NASA ordered an extreme cake from Buddy, requesting he create a space shuttle-shaped cake as part of the wind-down of the space shuttle program. Buddy decided that the innovation to set the space shuttle cake apart was for the rocket engine and solid rocket boosters to actually fire and make the space shuttle cake lift-off. Buddy admitted he had no idea how to do it, but he did know an FX and pyrotechnics guy who WAS able to figure it out and made the whole creative cake design work.
5. As much as you have to push for big NEW creativity, sometimes the most extreme creativity comes from OLD creativity.
When designing a cake for his mom’s birthday, Buddy decided the most extreme creativity he could deliver would be to re-create a double heart cake his father used to bake back in the day. In this case, going old school on the cake design was the most extreme creativity Buddy could do.
Buddy’s All About Extreme Creativity
Last time it was a NASCAR cake; this time, it’s a space shuttle cake! I can’t wait to see what extreme creativity Buddy the “Cake Boss” has in his ovens this season!
Mike Brown is an award-winning innovator in strategy, communications, and experience marketing. He authors the BrainzoomingTM blog, and serves as the company’s chief Catalyst. He wrote the ebook “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” and is a frequent keynote presenter.