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Build with Pods: A Pattern of Creation By Ian Clawson and Chris Deaver

The BraveCore approach follows co-creative patterns and align the most innovative teams into the DNA of the workplace culture, to navigate the future. This builds co-creative experiences and a brand foundation tied to the best in the culture, leading to greater market impact. Cracking the code on how to create together will be the key to the future.

“Creativity is the last frontier… automation over a long enough period of time will replace every non-creative job…that’s great news. That means all of our basic needs are taken care of, and what remains for us is to be creative, which is really what every human wants.” – Naval Ravikant


Here are some things you can do now to start shaping a better culture:


Make meetings personal. Studies show people are feeling burned out, more alone, and exhausted. The last thing they need is to be bouncing from one meeting to another “getting right down to business” at every turn. That’s a surefire way to get them to leave. The best approach? Give them space. Start with two questions: “How are you doing?” and “How are you really doing?” Give them the opportunity to check in, share their dog story, let their 5-year-old daughter wave at the camera. Bonding is one of the best ways for people to feel part of a team and want to stay. “Anything but work” check-ins are great, along with sharing stories, and highlighting what we’re grateful for.


Give people permission to build.Your people aren’t as much interested in random rewards as they are in challenge, or the dearth of it. They want to tackle impossible challenges, disrupt things, and build it together. They want to be trusted so they can expand the impact of their work in every direction. Let people loose on a big challenge and give them explicit permission to connect with whoever they need to make it happen. Bust the barriers for them and they’ll raise the bar themselves.


Turn “boring work” into creative work .If people don’t feel inspired by their work, they’ll leave. It’s that simple. They want to be part of something big and feel that they belong. People want to be part of the wave where work matters. It may not be your job to keep their work from feeling boring, but you can create the environment where the work feels and is co-creative. How? Connect the dots with them. Tell people you want them to be “creative” together. Let ideas and the work of the people help shape policies, systems, and processes. Not just solutions established by a bureaucratic committee or management gatekeepers. Show them you care about creating by getting in the trenches with them to see what they see and feel what they feel. Show them a template of co-creation by how engaged you are to involve them and build collective progress. There’s nothing like leaders who build meaning and purpose as they shape products and solutions as one with their team.


Culture is about embodying principles. It’s about reimagining meetings as conversations versus downloads and building bridges across teams versus building more islands and silos. It’s about giving people a sense of joy, where they speak of feeling energized. Where leaders care about them personally and bring them together. A place where the word “love” may even emerge in all its simple yet powerful ways. Isn’t this what every single one of us wants?


How to Build with Pods

Imagine a beautiful future we can shape together. A future every leader can start building now. By design. Intentionally. Sacrificing their own ego for the greater good of others. Knowing that people will feel the truth of their motives deep in their hearts by how we make them feel, not through pithy memos. They must do a better job to help others Create Context. By doing so they’ll feel the strength of shared purpose, building success together—for each other and for customers. A joy that has staying power, weaving itself into the fabric of our personal lives and with our families. Shaping a future where we not only show up better in work, but far better in life.


We stand now in a critical moment in leadership: What will you do with it? How will you lead others into the future through the power of culture? And how will you design it to make it a place, so inspiring people dream of joining?


How can we build cultures more like Pixar’s Braintrust? Here are some ways to take it to the next level (that we learned from Ed Catmull):


Encourage people to be brave. Don’t let your culture slip into workplace politics, leaders building personal empires, or self-inflation. Embrace the future that is about seeking to become a selfless force. Make others the mission by setting aside ego and pursuing work based on one measure: how your culture inspires the lives of others and how the “lowest ranking” person talks about your culture to a stranger. Embody and encourage bold empathy to help others feel seen, respected, and understood.


Celebrate co-creation. Be open to where people take their passion for building solutions. Billion-dollar businesses have emerged from a single idea someone had for years—once they were given permission to unleash it. See people for who they are, the gifts that they have, and bring out their best potential. Lead with questions to provoke a culture of curiosity, where anyone can imagine and express a better future, and partner with whoever they need to make it a reality—without fear. Show them you mean you care about them by providing the space to create, collaborate, and shape with others. Recognize people for their co-creative efforts, creative ideas, their unique gifts and talents, and their contributions to culture.


Bring misfits together to build insanely great things. The future is calling. People are reaching for a higher way of work and life. Let them drive the deep work that not only is different but makes a difference. Get inspired by the story of your future and seek to be that now. Don’t blindly follow popular opinion or general consensus. Your competition doesn’t have the innovative elixir, your people do. Have the courage to align principles and be brave enough to manifest the best outcomes—whether now, 10, 100, or 1000 years from now. Build infinite confidence in your team.


Building with pods is about co-creation. At the heart of it, co-creation solves the deepest problems of toxic workplace cultures and why people would ever leave. The size of your co-creative pod doesn’t matter, it’s the brave ideas, the big heart, and the bold actions that make pods special. It’s time we start to Follow True North.

The world needs co-creative cultures.


Build one with a braintrust, build with pods.


Learn more about the Building with Pods and other co-creative patterns with BraveCore.


Ian Clawson and Chris Deaver are cofounders of BraveCore, a leadership consultancy that’s shaping the future by helping leaders be more creative and creatives be better leaders.

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