I’ve been fascinated by the lean development principles for quite some time. It is something that feels very right, very modern and very effective, even if the principles and the way of working might take some time getting used to and embracing – more or less time, depending on what kind of company you’re working for and what field you’re active in. Still, viable principles for creating great products and services that can reach a customer base.
What I’ve been thinking about, however, is how these notions of lean development could be brought into the content creation business. It’s a field that for a long time – and to quite an extent still – is crowded by creators, producers, writers, ”gurus” that come up with an idea, develop it (alone or together with someone else), produce it (again, alone or together with a company for instance) and realese it. Be it a book, a podcast, a documentary, a tv series, a blog or something else, the traditional way of going about it is to have the content originate somewhere, and then be placed in the hands of a smaller or bigger producing entity that releases it unto an audience when it’s ready.
A friend of mine wrote a blog post the other day on how they’ve – successfully – implemented the lean principles at the office he runs, and the ten steps lined up in the post makes perfect sense for a group of people working together towards a common goal.
Now, why could not these principles be transferable to the creation of content together with an audience? ”Make everything scale” is the first point on the list, and that would, in my mind, be an obvious principle to adhere to when it comes to a story or a story world you’ve created. If it’s possible to scale it will make room for the audience, for other creators, for new possibilities, for new media platforms… for just about anything your story would need.
The following points – ”Allow people to scale” and ”Leave your ego at the door” – would in a creator-plus-audience setting be just that – the letting go of control of the stories and world you’ve created, in favor of letting them grow with the help of the nurturing cares of a multiheaded audience, working together with the creator to create something bigger and better and more engaging and exciting.
And looking at the other points Jonas makes, they all make sense too, in such a setting. These are:
No ones owns their work (but how do I monetize? you cry out. As do I! But I believe we would need to think creatively about that as well – if you have a sizeable audience, selling the story to them is only one way to make a living out of the thing you’ve created. There are many, many others.)
Leaders don’t tell people what to do (here slight nudges might come in handy though, as well as some goals for the process on a whole and on a more direct leve, the story/stories)
Automate whenever you can. (Rhymes very well with the interconnected world we live in today, even if a creative process leaves less to automation than others.)
Be ready to kill your darlings. (In the same vein as the leaving your ego at the door-point, once we’ve let the audience in on working with us, our darlings will not necessarily be anyone else’s darlings)
Get a feedback loop going, Make your processes and goals clear and visible and No silos. (All point towards more transparency, more openness, an increased readiness to accept the views of others as being as viable as your own, even if you would be the original creator of the original idea).
Now, content will of course – for the foreseeable future – still follow along the traditional lines outlined at the beginning of this post. The creator creates, the audience receives. But the ones that get these points, the ones that feel that working lean in an audience-engaged contest… these creators, they will reap rewards that will make everyone else stand up and take notice.
Note – researching this post I found that others unsurprisingly are thinking along similar tracks. Check for instance out Ian Lamont’s posts on the same topic.