A Spirit for Discovery Drives My Desire to code in order to make things
During my Gladwell-inspired, 10,000 hours of storytelling; a lot more if you include discovery and interviews; there are choice ideas, phrases and quotes that continue to impact how I create, live and work. One of them is the concept of the Creative Shift, inspired by a ‘Fast Company‘ story I wrote on film and TV writer/director Joss Whedon. Another is an idea shared with me by Wolfgang Hammer, Founder and President of Super Deluxe, a digital content studio owned by Turner Entertainment.
“Writers want to be makers,” Hammer told me, speaking during a sprawling conversation about interactive storytelling at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Hammer pointed to his eclectic Super Deluxe team; many of them musicians and journalists who have transformed into interactive content creators. Hammer’s creative belief is that innovative people are consistently transforming and building bold career paths via new skills. They’re hybrid artists and hybrid artists have the tools to be successful across a variety of industries.
“Writers want to be makers.” I feel like I need to spray paint those words over the better-known quotes covering the walls of my Cincinnati coworking space.
When I discuss my experiences and work, I begin by emphasizing that at my core I’m a writer and I strive for my writing to ignite clients and colleagues. Sometimes, my writing is in support of strategy, consulting and client services. It’s diverse, including brand launch campaigns, scripts for AR videos and any and all marketing materials. I’m also a long-form writer and my stories have been published in ‘QZ/Atlantic Media,’ ‘Fast Company’ and ‘NY Mag.’
My status as a writer and maker is authentic thanks to a ten-month collaboration with valued colleagues including Ryan Cayabyab, Sean C. Davis and Jason Snell on an interactive marketing product in the cultural tourism industry.
Our interactive marketing product, The Brewing Heritage Trail (BHT), is a digital, self-guided version of a cultural tour celebrating Cincinnati’s Brewing heritage throughout the Over-the-Rhine.
The BHT app is in market via Google Play and the App Store and data reports are providing valuable insights regarding in-app usage. More importantly, our lean product team can speak to designing, building and bringing an interactive product to market in ten months.
This ignites a new insight, one that extends Hammer’s idea to the next level. Writers want to be Makers and successful Makers are Full-Cycle Innovators.
There’s another idea ignited by this project and the interactive marketing product it helped bake. Design Agencies need to become Interactive Agencies in order to be sustainable in the 21st century. However, the creative business transformation does not stop at one phase. Interactive Agencies need to become Interactive Product Companies in order to be fully successful over the long term.
Now, the writer who becomes a maker in order to help architect an Interactive Product Company has another creative shift to accomplish.
Since the wrap of The BHT project, team members and I continue to collaborate on internal review and scorecard sessions. We outline project benchmarks exceeded, those benchmarks met and as well as those missed by the team.
I’m proud to report that BHT was on time and on budget. The client’s closing paperwork calls BHT “high quality.” More importantly, valued colleagues from corporations, startups and venture capital firms describe our interactive product as “magic in a bottle.”
Looking back on the project’s ten months, I can trace how my writing shifted towards an emphasis on strategy. I can also map how my strategy extended to project management as well as client services in order to keep the project on schedule.
The Full-Cycle Innovation work ignites Full-Cycle transformation. Writers want to be makers and makers need to be coders.
During team reviews, lead developer Sean C. Davis and I discussed ways for my project management to be more effective for the development team since our budget did not allow for a separate technical project manager.
Davis and other developer colleagues like Eric Boggs continue to share the same creative advice for me. In order to be a more successful writer and to help make my project management and client services skills more useful to project teams, I have to become a better coder.
Basically, in the 21st century, writers have to be coders.
From a practical perspective, I want to be a better project manager and keep our product team lean by adding some technical manager duties to my plate.
My creative agenda goes back to the insights shared by Super Deluxe’s Hammer. I believe that writers want to be makers. I know that nothing makes me more excited than the chance to keep collaborating with designers, developers, analysts and researchers in order to enhance, improve and make an exciting new version of our interactive storytelling product.
Thanks to encouragement and insights from colleagues like Boggs and Davis, I can take this concept to the next level. Writers who are makers have to be coders. Where will this all lead? Let’s reconnect in six months and I’ll share my coding report card.
SR Media is a creative hub for diverse design, writing and strategy services. Let’s start a conversation and discover if my work can bring value to your projects.