Create, Collaborate and Critique: Stages of Development

For the last ten years I’ve been saying: everyone can critique, but few can create.

This was a useful mantra for helping my product development teams get through the mire and pain of “executive feedback” which usually includes tons of opinions but teaspoonfuls of useful input.  Now I’m  in a position of developing content vs products, but my mantra remained the same.

However, I recently realized that I was skipping a step: collaboration.    I think my “skip” was actually a Freudian slip – I knew it existed, and I practiced it, but I sublimated this step into my sub-conscience because it is a grey area that exists between the seed of creation and the pruning of critique and because it is so difficult to define. Here are the stages of development that I am now using:

Creation is a singular activity.  Collaboration is a small group activity. Critique is for the masses.

  • When I say “creation is singular” I don’t mean only individuals can create (although there is a body of thought that supports this position), rather I mean “singular vision”.  Creation is both fragile and dynamic.  Singular vision during the creative stage allows the idea to coalesce, whereas too much friction can lead to an implosion.  Creation occurs best alone or with like-minded people.
  • Collaboration requires high levels of trust and selective diversity.  Some of my best experiences with collaboration have occurred with people who came to a similar conclusion from a different angle.  Our vision was the same, but HOW we reached it was very different, and it is in those differences that we found the opportunities for refinement.  Too much diversity during the early stages is usually more dilutive vs additive (and yes, I made up the word dilutive, but I really like it – so it stays.)
  • Critiquing is the pruning shear, large grit sandpaper, chisel and  hammer.  It shapes the idea into something more useful and fruitful than an idea left in the hothouse of like-mindedness, but if introduced too early in the process it can kill the idea.

My litmus test for “truth” is: does this principle apply to multiple areas?  if so, then it is a principle vs a preference.  Fortunately for me, I see the principles of creation, collaboration and critiquing in both nature (plant a seed – water and fertilize during development – prune when it hits a level of maturity) and family (2 people make the child, a family raises the child, the world shapes the child.  Exposing a child too early to the public forum of criticism may not kill the child – but often times seriously messes them up.)

In transmedia marketing, a key step is the inclusion of your audience into the creative process.  When should they be added? I think fans are added during collaboration, but the masses during critique.  The challenge here is; where are your fans (e.g. like minded people) and what is an efficient method of collaborating?  Things to be considered in a future post.

What do you think?  Am I stretching a preference into a principle or is this really a good way to view the development process?  Critiques are now welcome 🙂

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Marketers Challenged to Keep Pace with Mobile, Social (eMarketer Report)

Top 3 factors that are the biggest challenge to marketers :

1) Growth of channel and device choices

2) Customer collaberation and influence

3) Financial constraints /ROI accountability

eMarketer’s core take away from this data is that marketers are challenged to keep pace with proliferation of mobile & social tech, and therefore need to work more closely with tech groups.

As a counterpoint I add the following thought:  the proliferation of channels, media, tech, etc… requires the development of transmedia marketers: storytellers, technical generalists (and sometimes specialists!) and community enablers.

Full article from eMarketer here:  http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1009167&ecid=a6506033675d47f881651943c21c5ed4

See on www.emarketer.com

What is Transmedia?


Recently, I tried to explain the concept of “transmedia storytelling” to some marketing friends.  I eventually drew this image on my whiteboard.  It gives a simplified view of the evolution from multimedia to transmedia and helps convey the ideas of “story elements” and “social participation”.

In marketer-speak “story elements” are like “message maps”.  Since marketers create message maps, sound-bites, speaking points, etc… we can easily grasp the concept of story elements.  Where transmedia breaks the mold is the idea that the story elements are designed to tell a single story across all media.  Today, many marketing orgs are very silo’d and story elements are developed that do not roll-up into a coherent story.  The idea of starting with a single story and then breaking it into elements for multiple media is a slight paradigm shift.

The real  “a-ha” moment is the concept of social participation.  Marketers may conceptualize the brand story and develop the story elements.  But the story that exists in the marketplace is a combination of what marketers say AND what the market says.  Unfortunately, many marketers try to control the brand story by keeping “social participation” in its own silo.   With transmedia, marketers don’t control the story – they enable the story.  They give story elements to the market.  They encourage the market to add, embellish, and play with the elements and then they bring some of those “market created” elements into the official brand story.  By enabling the market to contribute to the story, marketers create a sense of brand ownership which leads to brand fans.  Brand fans are a good thing 🙂

Let me know what else you would add!

A Guide to Convergent Out Of Home

The following presentation is from posterscope (http://www.posterscope.com/)

Yep – it’s kinda long, but well worth taking the time to read.  They did an awesome job of visually representing what is happening in the world of Digital-Out-Of-Home.  Best part (imho) is the re-definition of a screen: basically, projectors allow you to turn anything into a screen.

And, can an argument be made that providing a digital overlay on a physical item is basically creating augmented reality? Me thinks so.

Transmedia marketing in the physical world with digital overlays, NFC, QR codes, Location Based Services, and the list goes on….   This is a great time to be a marketeer.

(click on this link if Slideshare is being funky:  http://www.slideshare.net/Posterscope/guide-to-convergent-outofhome)