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Brian Henson is Chairman of The Jim Henson Company and an award-winning director, producer, writer and performer. Most recently, he created "Stuffed and Unstrung," an off-Broadway puppet-based variety show geared[…]

Jim Henson knew the value of letting people make mistakes.

Question:rnHow does your leadership style compare to your dad’s? 


Brian Henson:  Boy, that’s onernof those questions you almost have to ask somebody else. I guess I rnlearned arncouple of good lessons from my dad. One was when you’re creating rnsomething,rnwhat you want when you’re working with a team of other artists, is rneverybody tornwork with some creative freedom, so that you really get the best out ofrneverybody.  People would say tornhim, “When you finish a movie, did it come out as good as you thought itrn wasrngoing to?”  Or, “Did it come outrnthe way you intended it to come out?” rnAnd my dad’s answer would be usually something to the affect of, rna.) itrncame out better than he imagined, but also, he said, “No, it would bernimpossible for me to imagine the way it will come out.”  Hern said, “Yes, I story-boarded it, Irnhad a plan, but then I work with an army of great artists and I want allrn ofrnthem to create inside that creation.” rnAnd so as a director, as a leader, and myself as a director and arnleader, I kind of try to make sure that we hold onto the vision and kindrn ofrncorral it, but by the time you finish whatever the project is, a TV rnshow, arnseries, a movie, a stage show, it should be a product of what all those rnpeoplerncan do, and therefore, it can never be what you imagined it would be in rnthernbeginning.  And it should bernsomething that only that group of people could’ve made with everybody rninvested. 


Sorn in thatrnsense, I try to emulate his approach of really get the most out of rnpeople byrnallowing them to experiment and certainly allowing people to makernmistakes.  I think in a creativerneffort, in any creative effort, you need to, people need to be able to rnberntaking risks and if it turns out to be a mistake—if it turns out not to rnhavernbeen the right choice—that should be applauded, you know, by everybody, rnand itrnwill come up with another plan. rnBut if everybody’s trying to stay safe, then you never really rncreaternsomething new and different and surprising.


Andrn so I try tornoperate like him in that sense.  Myrndad was a very, very gentle soul, I’m probably not quite as gentle, rnmaybe, asrnhim.  But I certainly try tornrespect people and create an environment where people can flourish.

Recorded on April 8, 2010