Good talent is always scarce in the same proportion, no matter the market conditions. When assembling an interactive marketing team, consider these four approaches to coping with the scarcity:
The Rock Star Approach
Simply find those rare wunderkinder with business sense, technology acumen and a creative head for problem-solving. Be ready to wait. Once you attract them, feed and water them with the greatest of care. They may have the effect of three hires. They will do wonderful things for your business -- until they don't. They burn out easily and like to move around. Oh, and they often don't love to manage, so it's hard to transfer their talent. Come to think of it, don't bet the business on this approach.
The 'Voltron' Approach
Build one killer team from complementary specialists. Chemistry is critical, so look for people with the communication skills to pull it off. Find "makers" rather than managers. Bringing a discrete craft to the team makes effectiveness more measurable and manageable. Give them group projects that encourage team members to iterate ideas. Sidestep the comfort of assembly-line workflow. The good news is that Gen Y-ers are already arriving to the workforce eager to work in groups. Their diet of team sports and group projects can work for you. They like to know who is in charge, so give them a strong leader to rally them around a vision.
The Grow Your Own Approach
Any organization with means should be taking measures to grow technology skills. Whether hiring or retraining, the ability to learn and adapt is the key predictor of success. An encyclopedic knowledge of technology is not productive. Thriving in the interactive era requires an understanding of the underlying concepts of interactivity and an ability to roll with the changes. Teach those people to fish, and you know the rest.
The Shotgun Approach
If you are Google, divert a portion of your wealth toward allowing staff the time to pursue their own interests and ideas. Hope that one of those ideas turns into a breakthrough for your company. If you are not Google, use some combination of all four.
And I know there must be a fifth or sixth approach. Add your own ideas in the comments -- I'd love to hear them.
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Chad Currie is VP-group creative director at T3, where he advises interactive creative direction for clients including Marriott, JCPenney, JPMorgan Chase and UPS.