SuperAcademy: Insights into leadership in the network economy - VOL 3

Antti Toivonen

19 September


This post is about the myth of the young creator (or entrepreneur, for that matter).

I read this article about over-50s as radical innovators and it made me think.

Over the past years, we've worked almost solely with teams of fairly senior-ish talent. This is enabled by our network economy approach ie. the specialist model. Coming from the creative line that has historically been obsessed with youth, I've been questioning the ageism of the industry a fair bit and tried to understand the root cause of it – and how to change it.

Reasons are many, but an obvious one comes from the traditional business model where the price point drives towards working with less expensive people: A department full of young ones often comes with a lower cost than a house full of experience. But does it have to be that way? In network economy this is not the case.

As a note, there is a lot of value in the thinking, views and the work of the young, but I won't go there now as this post is focusing on the benefits of building networked specialist teams with long experience. It's something the creative industry could tap more into as it is completely possibly, it just means a slightly different modus operandi.

The model is simple

In network economy independent and highly specialised people form temporary project teams across several companies at the same time. Talent is curated spot-on, and often very 'self-driven' as people in the teams are largely solopreneurs (so it's about the entrepreneurial mindset to start with). Working with such teams enables a more flat "agency operating system'"which in turn has a lighter cost-structure compared to top-heavy models or those requiring heavier steering.

A lion's share of the specialists we work with are on the higher side of 40. A specialist under 30 is an exception. Such departments are rarely seen in the industry. In fact, even our small core team is pretty senior, as we try to avoid glorifying youth for the wrong reasons. Also, to me working with heavy-hitters is a personal preference: they know what they are doing.

The age-structure of independent specialists comes from the fact that those strike on their own tend to be of certain age. They have already graduated from the agency system, and can bring to table black belt level experience, entrepreneurial mindset, a steady pair of hands.

Obviously, nothing in the world is black and white – there's a lot of value in scouting and training young talent too.

In a nutshell

The value of seniority shouldn't be explained away for wrong reasons as there are ways to make these models work. That benefits everyone.

Looking ahead I see myself as a current and future mature creator as well. That is one of the biggest reasons why I picked up film making on the side, 10 years ago at 35: I figured that storytelling is a craft where you without a question get better with age, so I feel have decades of growth a head of me. Same applies to entrepreurship, as the article attached shows.













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