Jun 16

Heroes of simplicity: Blue Man Group

My new book, Think Simple, will be published tomorrow. While my previous book focused on the power of simplicity as practiced by Steve Jobs and Apple, the new one goes further. I sought out more than 40 practitioners of simplicity in a range of companies around the world. Here’s one of them. Or, actually, three of them…


In searching for my heroes of simplicity, I hoped to find the most colorful stories. This one had more color than anticipated.

Blue Man Group was founded by Chris Wink, Phil Stanton and Matt Goldman. For those who aren’t familiar, BMG creates entertainment experiences. It’s hard to explain, but amazing to see. The show is all fun—combining music, performance art, electronics, strange instruments, audience participation and general mind-bending.

Blue Man Group started in 1987 as a three-man street act in New York City. Now they have permanent theaters in five U.S. cities and Berlin, and have performed for more than 30 million people around the world.

Chris (center in the photo) explained that simplicity has played a big part in BMG’s success, and continues to do so today. Basically, the group purposefully followed a path of controlled growth. They turned down lucrative offers of expansion—spurning a shot at Broadway to remain off-Broadway, and refusing to open multiple shows in Las Vegas as Cirque du Soleil had done. They also rejected offers to extend the brand to games and videos.

To them, the mission—”create amazing audience experiences”—was all-important. In effect, they found themselves on a mission to keep the mission intact.

A number of leaders I spoke to expressed a similar philosophy. A clear, strong mission acts as a guideline for management and employees alike. It influences decisions and behaviors, preventing it from veering off its intended path.

Chris was full of interesting stories about how BMG got to where it is today —how it keeps the performers focused, how it creates seamless theater experiences, and how simplicity helped BMG rethink its marketing approach.

There are lessons worth learning, even if your business is generally performed without face paint.

There’s more from Chris Wink and many other business leaders in Think Simple. If you’re interested in reading, keep in mind that there’s a fun little gift for everyone who pre-orders—but there’s only one day remaining to get in on that deal. Details here.


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