Fox just renewed the show to go beyond a record-setting 636th episode. Here’s what you can learn from a ridiculously high-performing team.
The Western drama Gunsmoke is about to get smoked by a most unlikely candidate: Fox’s irreverent The Simpsons.
The show just re-upped for its 30th season and thus will push past Gunsmoke’s previous record of 635 episodes for a scripted-TV series.
Gunsmoke executives declined an interview, saying only “D’oh!” in response. (OK, they didn’t really say that.)
The immensely successful show debuted in 1989 thanks to the creative genius of Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, and the late Sam Simon.
The longevity and height of their success is astounding. Here’s how they’ve done it and what you can reapply.
1. Always keep innovating
30 years in and the Simpsons are still ground-breakers. This Halloween’s vaunted “Treehouse of Horror” episode featured a virtual reality experience based on a spoof of Planet of the Apes. Viewers downloaded a Google app and used their Google Cardboard for an immersive 360 degree experience.
Past innovations are too numerous to count, but include The Simpsons animated in a live audience environment, a Stand up to Cancer episode, and Marge Simpson in Playboy.
Does your team have an equally innovative spirit?
2. Reinvent your category
Before The Simpsons came along, cartoons were for kids. Now, numerous spin-offs have the show to thank including Family Guy, American Dad, and South Park just to name a few. The category of cartoons has been completely reinvented and is now a massive prime-time business.
What would it take to reinvent your category for explosive growth?
3. No sacred cows
Nothing is off the table for this team. The show has evolved into a cultural touchstone with incredibly sharp humor and social commentary on modern society. They will take shots at their network, politics, religion–anything in the zeitgeist.
And their fans love it.
What would happen if you took down a few sacred cows in your business?
4. Don’t take yourselves too seriously
The Simpsons team even pokes fun at themselves, often. For example, they have a gaming app called Simpsons: Tapped Out.
Fun is no stranger to this team. David Silverman, longtime producer of The Simpsons told the Washington Post, “I don’t know why you’d stop it. We’re having a great time.”
5. Stay hungry despite success
With countless awards including 32 Emmy’s and seven People’s Choice Awards, enviable TV ratings, and franchise revenue poised to eventually reach $20 billion, no one can question the cartoonish success of the series.
And yet onward they roll with as much steam as ever.
Keep that eye of the tiger even if you’re king of the jungle.
6. Have a higher-order purpose
Executive producer George Meyer told ABC news the purpose of The Simpsons: “It’s to get people to re-examine their world, and specifically the authority figures in their world.”
You can see that purpose play out in successful episode after episode.
Your team should have a higher-order purpose behind what it does to help keep motivation and focus.
7. Don’t compromise on having a deep bench
The Simpsons always has its writing bench stacked. Former staffers and guest writers include Conan O’Brien, Seth Rogen, and Ricky Gervais.
A small army of top-level talent works on each episode. And even though the show has gone through many showrunners over the years, when one moves on, the next A-level talent steps right in.
If you want longevity in your business, job number one is finding, keeping, and back-filling (when necessary) top grade talent.
8. Predict the future
The Simpsons has eerily predicted the future on many occasions, including the rise of then future president Donald Trump, the Ebola virus outbreak, and even a late-in-their-life Rolling
Nobody expects your team to actually predict the future, but you can increase your predictive abilities by staying close to trends and spending time projecting what could happen in your business.
As for your future, it will be brighter if you apply these lessons from one of the most successful teams of all time.