Scaling Creativity with Shonda Rhimes

Jason Philip Yoong
2 min readFeb 11, 2020

A fascinating inside look into Shonda’s mental model approach to creating, specifically: (a) knowing what your customer wants (in her case, what Bob Iger wanted for ABC) + relentless work ethic; (b) scaling yourself through others that have earned your trust (e.g. having a non-writing producing partner, spreading trusted team members to other projects, training a large talent pool to tap into, and creating a writer incubator); © attentive listening to the problem-solving that everyone else is doing; (d) characteristics she looks for in potential hires include outputs, resourcefulness, passion, and having a creative life outside of work; (e) by episode 10 is when Shonda has a good sense the show has achieved Product Zeitgeist Fit (this is also around the time I find character development begin to ramp in the shows I like); and(f) bingeing shows creates a different type of “watercooler” talk (e.g. 12-year-old having just finished binged 300 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy).

Further, I thought Marc Andreessen did an excellent job moderating because of his varied and direct/short questions (e.g. what rate of success do you expect, how does a graduate from USC Film School get your interest, as a creative professional how do you navigate between art and business, how do you know when you are pushing the audience too far, how has social changed what you do). It would be fun to see Marc moderate more fireside chats with non-tech creators.

Photo for Post Purpose (see video above)