Fuck pins, give me fireworks
A view from Jen Smith

Fuck pins, give me fireworks

Too many experts and not enough collaboration is bad for media and bad for creativity, Craft Media'a founding partner argues.

I learnt about the division of labour back in an Economics A-Level class in 1995.

Adam Smith, the 18th Century economist and author of The Wealth of Nations, famously observed how, in a pin factory, it is more efficient to divide the labour force into specialists.

Given the upheaval within the media industry at the moment, it has made me wonder if we have transformed this beautiful, messy, creative industry into something akin to a pin factory.

We demand that media has transitioned into a highly skilled sector – with requirements for deep technical knowledge. No longer T-Shaped people, but rather I-shaped people.

A quick look around the average agency shows just how focused everyone has become – headphones in ears, heads down, in "the flow" of productivity.

Division of labour may drive productivity when you clearly know what it is that you need to produce.

But what if you don’t? What if the world doesn’t need any more pins?

The problem with being an "expert" at something is that the answer to every problem is the thing that you are expert in.

It takes debate, conversation and challenge to show that the answer isn’t always the thing that sits in front of you.

And all that takes collaboration.

But collaboration is a pain in the arse of productivity.

You have to take your headphones out, prioritise conversation over ticking off the to-do list, and get involved in something that may not have a simple outcome.

Collaboration is meant to be fun: a meaty conversation with the client unveils the real brief behind the brief.

Collaboration means going to-to-toe with your creative partners, disagreeing and being forced to justify your point of view through healthy debate laced with knowledge.

A workshop with experts in a room may take a day but done well can short-cut weeks of individual people looking for the proverbial insight needle in the haystack of data.

But try getting 10 people to clear their diaries when there isn’t a xmas party to tempt them?

At Craft, a communications strategy agency where I work with Sally Weavers, we want to bring collaboration back.

We know for a fact that clients, creatives, PRs, media agencies and media owners are desperate to do the best and most successful and satisfying work possible.

It’s just no one has any time anymore to work together, to challenge the brief (hell, even to write the brief), to run a workshop, to deliver a plan that is as interesting as it is effective.

So we want to do that for you.

Whether you are an agency, client, creative or media owner.

We want to work in collaboration, to drive collaboration, and champion collaboration to bring Craft back to our industry.  

We don’t believe the world needs any more pins. We think it needs fireworks.

Jen Smith is a founding partner in Craft Media

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