Bring All Your Skills To The Table Or Get Out

Adobe hosts a conversation between Khoi Vinh, Design Director for and Jason Fried of 37signals. The entire piece is worth reading, but here’s one point I have to call out for all the copywriters in the audience:

Q. You state (in Getting Real) that an information architect, for example, doesn’t make sense for a small team. Can you elaborate?
A. Sure. We don’t think there’s room for specialists on a small team. If you have four people, and one person can do only one thing really well, we think they’re wasting space. You are better off with someone who can code HTML/CSS, design UI, structure information, and write copy. We think all of that is a designer’s job. Not the job of four separate people.
Bigger teams afford more specialists, but they also increase overhead, muddle communication, and put up more walls. When one person has to toss something over the wall to someone else, and they have to toss it over another wall, and then yet another wall, things quickly get confused. It’s like a game of telephone—the more people you have the more garbled the message gets by the end of the line. So we think it’s better to find people who are good at a few things, not just great at one thing.

I haven’t met many hackers with copywriting skills, but maybe I’m looking in the wrong place. Clearly, the agency environment–where meetings are King and specialists populate the cubes–is one Fried would find toxic.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.