Based on the themes that emerged, we distilled a handful of leadership challenges worthy of consideration for creative minds across industries. Check our shortlist, and then share yours.
Challenge #1: Making Great Products That Also Do Good
Thanks to brands like Apple and IDEO, “design-thinking” trickled down to the mainstream last year, becoming a buzzword at companies worldwide. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs, developers, and designers on the leading edge are already discussing the next challenge: “sustainability-thinking.” Asking questions like: Who is this product helping? And, where will this product go when it dies?
We talked to Ji Lee, Creative Director of Google Creative Lab, about broadening his focus from “well-designed” to “designed for good”:
Challenge #2: Hiring and Managing Remote Workers
The rise of the “remote worker” continues apace – especially with regard to small businesses and creative enterprises. A few key developments are contributing to this trend:
- Project teams are being assembled on the fly from a shortlist of “remote” freelancers based on the client’s needs.
- Individuals and agencies are sourcing these freelancers from all over the world as the Internet gives us new ways to discover talent.
- To extend their reach, many small businesses are setting up satellite “offices” – staffed by just 1 or 2 employees – in cities around the globe. All of these developments point to one thing: The increased need for skills related to hiring remote workers and managing them.
I find it very hard to get a sense of people when not meeting them in person. I feel like there’s an element of human gut interaction missing. But I am not alone with this challenge; more and more a companies all around the globe are facing the same situation. People are often working remotely and no longer go to a central office. It seems as we have to sharpen our skills in ‘virtual meeting and understanding people.’
Challenge #3: Adapting to Content Shifting
Content shifting is another big challenge that’s just starting to rear its head. As Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson wrote recently, “With the proliferation of devices and content types, all connected to each other via the Internet, content shifting is becoming a huge deal and a real pain point. Some content shifting is pretty easy right now. Getting a web page onto a phone or tablet, like Instapaper does so well, does not require any magic tricks. Some content shifting is pretty hard. Getting a song from Sirius XMU to fredwilson.fm is not straightforward.”While Wilson looks at content shifting as a ripe opportunity for new business solutions, it’s also a present – and growing – challenge for content creators, who now need to create work that is more adaptable and transferable across mediums. Illustrator and beloved NY Times blogger, Christoph Niemann, recently described his challenge:
Equally fun but maybe even tougher is the whole possibility for animation. For all the work I do for ‘WIRED’ these days (as well as a recent ‘New Yorker’ cover), I always have to add an animated version of the drawing. I am trying not to turn the drawing into a little animated cartoon, but it’s fun to try to add a little movement to make a still drawing come to life. It’s artistically difficult and the budgets for the additional work is limited, but I feel I have to wrestle with this new development whether I like it or not.
Challenge #4: Curating and Planning Live Events
For any business that deals in content generation and curation – or marketing in general – the “live event” is becoming a compelling part of the business offering. In our increasingly digital world, events that create a genuine connection with audiences have new value. Outside of Swissmiss’s event series (mentioned above) and our own 99U Conference, the list of businesses doing live events is endless: niche brands like New York magazine, PSFK, and Flavorpill, as well as big brands like Oracle, Microsoft, and SAP.
Chris Guillebeau, author of the popular blog The Art of Non-Conformity, recently entered the fray with his first event, the World Domination Summit. Explaining why he got into the events space, Guillebeau says:
Whatever your industry, physical gatherings may well become an important part of your business strategy going forward.
Challenge #5: Managing Workload Transparency
The need for workload transparency is nothing new – we discussed it with Pop!Tech curator Andrew Zolli years ago. That said, with remote working becoming par for the course, transparency will be that much more crucial in the future. As Miguel Senquiz, Head of Digital Strategy at Ghostly International, put it in a recent conversation:
The latest iteration of transparency here at Behance involves a series of “hitlists” for our internal teams – design, development, etc. The “hitlist” is a shared Google Doc that gives a snapshot of our collective priorities and workload (i.e. projects underway, person in charge of the task, expected deadlines, etc), which everyone on the Behance team can view at any time.
As team members and leaders, we must constantly readjust our priorities on the fly: Being able to see what everyone is working on in a single glance gives you the information you need to do it.–
What’s Your Take?
This list represents just a small set of challenges on the horizon, which is why we want to hear from you in the comments.
What challenges are top of mind for you in 2011?