Will 2013 Be the Year of The Makers?

MakersThis is the time of year when bloggers publish lists of trends for 2013. Sure, I plan to do that on this blog, too. But if you want a broader view of where trends can lead, I encourage you to read an important book published in October by Random House.  It’s entitled “Makers: The New Industrial Revolution” by Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson. Like Anderson’s previous best-seller “The Long Tail: Why The Future of Business Is Selling Less of More,” the book “Makers” will help you make sense of multiple trends that have gained steam over the past several years.

“Long Tail” outlined opportunities for entrepreneurial self-publishers of niche books, music, and photo products. “Makers” can help designers and other freelance professionals better understand how to capitalize on emerging opportunities for independent work.

Resurgence in American Manufacturing

The book contends that the collective potential of a million garage tinkerers and enthusiasts is about to be unleashed, driving a resurgence of American manufacturing. This new industrial revolution will be driven by “The Maker Movement” and technologies that give everyone the power to be inventors.

While we won’t see the return of giant factories employing armies of workers. Anderson believes The Maker Movement will usher in a new kind of manufacturing economy—one that is built from the ground up, broadly distributed and highly entrepreneurial.

As Anderson points out, the idea of a ‘factory’ is changing:  “Today, anyone with an invention or good design can upload files to a service and have the product made, in small batches or large, and make it themselves with increasingly powerful desktop fabrication tools such as 3D printers. Would-be entrepreneurs and inventors are no long at the mercy of large companies to manufacture their ideas.”

Instead of having to find salespeople or distributors to sell their products, an inventor can simply set up an e-commerce site that can be easily found through a Google search.

He says one of the great opportunities in the Maker Movement is that companies that start out online can be both small and global. They can be both artisanal and innovative.

Anderson believes that the energy and creativity of entrepreneurs and individual innovators can reinvent manufacturing, and create jobs as their small businesses grow bigger. In the book he cites dozens of examples and other experts who agree that in the “New Industrial Revolution,” smart, creative people can discover and exploit billions of new entrepreneurial opportunities.

In addition to the rise of rapid prototyping and 3D printing technologies, the New Industrial Revolution is being enabled by online communities (for research and development), crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter (for quickly raising capital), and social-media (for word-of-mouth marketing).

As Anderson points out, inventors today aren’t working in isolation in their garages or basements. Instead, they are likely to collaborate online with communities of equally obsessed people.  This can compress decades of development work into months.

“Making things has gone digital: Physical objects now begin as designs on screens, and those designs can be shared online as files,” writes Anderson. “This has been happening over the past few decades in factories and industrial design shops, but now it’s happening on consumer desktops and in basements, too.”

According to Anderson, the number of shared production facilities (“makerspaces”) around the world is growing at an astounding rate. He observes, “This nascent movement is less than seven years old, but it’s already accelerating as fast as the early days of the PC.”

The Long Tail of Talent

In the New Industrial Revolution, companies will be smaller, virtual, and informal. Most participants probably won’t be full-time employees, but rather virtual teams or workers that form and re-form as needed.

As was discussed in another book covered on this blog, (“The New World of Work”), Anderson says companies won’t be limited to hiring only people in their immediate vicinity who are willing to work for them. Instead, they can easily find and work with the best qualified people from around the world.

Conversely, you will be able to easily find the types of projects that you are most passionate about.  And no matter what your age or background, you will be able to demonstrate your qualifications through your participation in online communities.

Anderson points out that “The Web allows people to show what they can do, regardless of their education and credentials. It allows groups to form and work together easily outside of a company context, whether this involves ‘jobs’ or not.”

Whereas companies are full of bureaucratic procedures and approval processes, communities form around shared interests and needs and have no more process than they require. An online community exists for the project, not to support the company. Yet communities can’t make physical goods by themselves.

Anderson’s book is filled with dozens of examples that illustrate how The Maker Movement has evolved and how existing manufacturing operations are benefitting from new approaches. He also shares his own experiences forming 3D Robotics Inc., a company that make aerial robotics products that were designed by an online community.


Makers: The New Industrial Revolution

The Long Tail, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More


New World of Work Requires Attitude Shift

New World of Work Requires Attitude Shift

Technology and changing business practices have fundamentally altered the way we work, build careers, and search for talent. While other parts of the world have caught on to this movement, the U.S. seriously lags behind when it comes to understanding this revolution and what to do about it. That’s the theme of “The New World of Work: From the Cube to the Cloud”, a new book written by Tim Houlne and Terri Maxwell and scheduled to be released by Inspire on Purpose Publishing on January 1, 2013. Houlne and Maxwell believe that those who embrace the new world of work can succeed in jobs without boundaries or buildings.

Although the book isn’t written specifically for creative professionals, any writer, designer, or photographer who does freelance work can benefit from understanding some of global workforce trends presented to hiring managers, marketers, and project managers in “The New World of Work.”

The authors contend that competing in this new world of work requires a fundamental shift in thinking.  Once you can see and accept how work requirements have changed, you can create a better career for yourself.

For example, the authors envision a world in which professionals who have the right mindset and skills can choose jobs they are passionate about rather than settling for whatever jobs exist within a 50-mile radius of their homes. They write that when we create our own jobs, “We can put together workstreams of projects that we enjoy, rather than being forced to do tasks considered part of the ‘other-duties-as-assigned’ aspect of our job descriptions.”

The Global Talent Competition

The book explains that after the 2008 economic meltdown, our global economy spawned an entirely new way of organizing work. Work has been fractionalized, careers have been virtualized, and talent has been globalized.

“Routine work has been broken down into small tasks,” says Houlne. As a result, most companies will be hiring fewer full-time workers and outsourcing more routine tasks as contract projects.

Cloud technology is “virtualizing careers” by enabling professionals to work anywhere. The combination of fractionalized work and virtualized careers means that smart businesses can get talent from anywhere and at any time. They aren’t limited to hiring the best-qualified applicants who live within a 50-mile radius of their offices.

“While this is clearly an advantage for those businesses that can adapt, it is an even biggest opportunity for professionals who learn how to complete effectively for this work,” says Maxwell. “And, in a world with no boundaries, learning to compete for this work is paramount.”

Houlne and Maxwell believe that the speed of business and technological change has outpaced the ability of many workers to adapt, resulting in a mismatch between work and the skills required to fulfill the demand for certain jobs: “The jobs are there—in fact, businesses are crying out to fill them—workers just need to gain the necessary skills and attitudes to make those jobs their own.”

They point out “Work has spread across the globe because companies can source talent easily, and talent will compete for the work–not based on price, but on the quality of their work.”

Even though this means we all may face stiffer competition from others, some companies will compete for the best talent by providing interesting projects at competitive pay.

Stop Blaming Others and Move On

In the book, Houlne and Maxwell say it’s time to stop blaming corporations or the government for not protecting our jobs. Instead, we must accept that something much bigger is going on, set aside our fears, and prepare for the future.

They point out “The lack of good jobs is truly the most pressing issue in the industrialized world, but this challenge can easily be solved if companies and workers begin to think differently. The work still exists, but the jobs we once held do not.”

In the book, the authors present a roadmap for navigating the new world of work. For starters, they recommend that you start thinking more about the type of work you are most passionate about and the types of roles in which you can be most effective.  “Professionals who want to compete in the new world of work have a huge advantage if they can stop worrying about their jobs and build new career strategies.”

About the Authors

Tim Houlne is CEO at Working Solutions, a virtual agent and technology solutions provider in Dallas Texas. Terri Maxwell is a consultant to businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to accelerate growth. She has built numerous successful companies and created the Succeed on Purpose business incubator in Irving, Texas. Together, they have 50 years of leadership experience.


The New World of Work: From the Cube to the Cloud

Website and Blog: The New World of Work


In-House Creative Teams Are Growing in Size and Status

A new research paper, “5 Trends Every In-House Designer Should Know,” indicates that over the next 3 to 5 years, in-house design and marketing teams will expand and exert more influence on creative efforts.

The report also sheds light on the inner workings of corporate design departments and highlights trends any creative professional can take advantage of in the coming years.

The research was co-developed by The Creative Group (TCG) and AIGA, the professional association for design. It is part of INitiative, a program developed to help in-house creatives make a greater impact at their companies, evolve professionally and connect with a broader network of peers.

For the study, TCG and AIGA surveyed more than 400 AIGA members, all of whom work in-house. The study team also interviewed thought leaders who have extensive corporate work experience.

Key Findings

  • Six in 10 (61 percent) in-house creatives expect their company’s budget for creative services to increase in the next three to five years; only 10 percent anticipate budget declines. In addition, 55 percent of respondents predict the size of their team will grow over the same time period versus 6 percent who think it will shrink.
  • Sixty-one percent of in-house creatives believe they’ll have more influence on their company’s business decisions in the next three to five years.
  • More than half (52 percent) of in-house professionals said the greatest challenge for their team is managing heavier workloads, and 58 percent of respondents expect to rely more on help from freelancers and agencies in the coming three to five years.
  • While 29 percent of in-house creatives expect to stay in their current role, half of respondents anticipate moving to another corporate job or agency, pursuing freelance work or leaving the industry entirely. This trend will make retaining good employees a key priority for employers.

In-House Creative Teams on the Rise

Why are corporate creative and marketing careers gaining appeal? In part, design is enjoying a higher perceived value to business, and companies are placing greater emphasis on branding and creative execution.

Organizations also recognize the unique value proposition in-house teams can provide: When asked to name the greatest single benefit of utilizing these resources over external agencies, a majority (57 percent) of respondents cited deep knowledge of the company’s brand and product or service offerings.

Heavier Workloads Challenge Teams

As the number of corporate initiatives rises, particularly in the digital realm, in-house professionals say managing heavier workloads is their biggest challenge. Savvy employers understand when to call in reinforcements — and this opens new opportunities for creative freelancers and agencies who seek to partner with corporate teams.
“Managers should always be looking for ways to keep their employees engaged and enthusiastic. This includes keeping a close eye on burnout potential and knowing who to call to quickly access freelance talent to help during busy times and keep creativity at its peak,” said Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group. “Planning fun team-building activities may seem like a simple solution, but it can relieve stress and build employee camaraderie.”

Strategy Translates to Greater Respect

While the in-house professionals surveyed predict they’ll play a greater role in their company’s business decisions, they still feel they’re battling a lack of respect from internal clients. Corporate design leaders say that their teams must take responsibility for bridging that “respect gap.”

“The value of the creative mind is being promoted in progressive business and strategy circles,” said Richard Grefe, executive director of AIGA. “To become what they want to be, in-house creatives must steep their own work in an understanding — and the vernacular — of corporate strategy.”

“To chart a positive in-house career path, creative professionals should focus not just on their work, but also on the results it generates and the value it brings to the company,” added Farrugia. “Creatives should gather as much data as possible on the outcomes of major projects. Did a new packaging design result in higher sales, for example? Did a website refresh lead to more orders? Create a compelling story about how your team solves business problems — and tell that story throughout the organization.”

Creative Teams Need Nurturing

As the economy strengthens, companies must make an effort to retain top performers or risk losing them. Half of in-house creatives surveyed anticipate changing jobs, whether to another firm or agency, or to pursue freelance work or a different industry. To avoid losing key players, employers must show them they are valued and create opportunities for continued growth.

“In addition to the perks and benefits a company can provide, offering various career paths for creative professionals can go a long way toward retaining top performers,” said Farrugia. “Expose employees to different leaders of the company and encourage them to volunteer for cross-departmental projects to help broaden their skill sets and build their professional networks.”

To download a complimentary copy of 5 Trends Every In-House Designer Should Know, watch interviews with thought leaders or learn more about the research project, visit: www.creativegroup.com/ctf.

The Creative Group (TCG) specializes in placing a range of highly skilled interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms on a project and full-time basis.

AIGA is the professional association for design, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing design as a professional craft, strategic tool and vital cultural force.


5 Trends Every In-House Designer Should Know

About The Creative Group

About AIGA


Hiring Survey Says Finding Skilled Creatives Is Challenging

Fifteen percent of marketing and advertising executives plan to add full-time staff in the next three months, according to The Creative Group Hiring Index for Marketing and Advertising Professionals.  Four percent forecast reductions in personnel. The resulting net 11 percent of executives anticipating hiring is up one point from the second-quarter forecast.

In addition, more than half (51 percent) of those surveyed said it’s challenging to find skilled creative professionals today, up 10 points from three months ago.

About the Survey

The Creative Group Hiring Index for Marketing and Advertising Professionals is based on more than 500 telephone interviews — approximately 375 with marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees and 125 with advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.

Executives are asked whether their companies plan to increase or decrease the number of full-time marketing and advertising personnel on their staff during the coming quarter. The survey is conducted by an independent research firm and developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service providing interactive, design and marketing professionals on a project and full-time basis.

Key Findings

  • The net 11 percent of executives planning to hire in the third quarter is up one point from the second-quarter 2012 forecast.
  • Fifty-one percent of survey respondents said it’s challenging to find skilled creative professionals today, up 10 points from the previous quarter.
  • Social media, account services and web design/production are the specialties in greatest demand, according to marketing and advertising executives.
  • Eighty-nine percent of survey respondents report they are confident in their companies’ growth prospects for the third quarter, down two points from the second-quarter projections.

“Investments in online projects and, in particular, social media initiatives continue to grow,” said Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group. “Hiring managers at organizations of all sizes and in every industry seek professionals who can help develop and execute digital campaigns, and cultivate online communities. Agencies also are looking for account services professionals to help manage new and existing client relationships, as well as identify opportunities for growth.”

Specialties in Demand

When executives were asked in which areas they plan to add staff in the third quarter, social media, account services and web design/production ranked highest, each with 17 percent of the response.

Marketing and advertising executives were asked, “In which of the following areas do you expect to hire in the third quarter of 2012?” Their responses:

Social media 17%
Account services 17%
Web design/production 17%
Brand/product management 16%
Media services 15%
Print design/production 15%
Interactive media 12%
Public relations 12%
Mobile applications development 12%
Marketing research 11%
Creative/art direction 10%
Copywriting 10%


Note: Multiple responses permitted. Top responses shown.

Perspectives on Business Growth

Marketing and advertising executives’ confidence in their ability to attract new business dipped slightly from last quarter. Eighty-nine percent of those interviewed said they are somewhat or very confident in their firms’ prospects for growth in the third quarter, down two points from three months ago.


The Creative Group

Creative Group Career Magazine