Given the chance, in the present situation, I would rather work for a Small or Medium Business than in a big Corporation. This is not a point of view shared by many, but most truly Functional-Creative people I know are in the same situation.
Just to be clear, I am not talking about the Purely-Creative people out there, some of whom I personally have to deal with every day at work. While I have all due respect for them (some friends of mine are among them), I am now writing about the ones who also take a Functional attitude approach to Creativity, working inside the lines of the Real and the Doable, the actual “heroes” of the Publicity Production world.
From my perspective, the ups and downs of working in the two fore mentioned types of companies are listed below, C being for Corporation and SMB for Small & Medium Business.
So, let’s see this comparison from my perspective:
SALARY:
C – Good to Very Good pay, depending on experience and if you know how to sell yourself. Negotiable at fixed points in time, usually at one-year intervals. May be under scrutiny of evaluations of activity that have nothing to do with the difficulty of the work itself, but more with the flow.
SMB – Decent to Low pay, depending more on skills than experience or knowing to sell yourself. Negotiable at longer than one-year intervals. Usually this depends more on working with variable specializations than is than on the flow itself.
DIFFICULTY:
C – Medium to High. The work specialization is high, so there is little direct contact with related sectors. Clients are mainly dealt-with by Key Accounts and production details are transmitted mainly in writing and/or through Production Managers. The most stressing part is dealing with the tendency of non-creative Superiors towards trying to standardize Creative workflow and timing. This last part is due to the fact that most Corporations undervalue the experience of a Manager that has held, for a while, the same job as his underlings and usually hire, for high positions, people with “paper-experience” and “Business” or “Management” schools on their Curriculum Vitae.
SMB – High to Very High. Direct contact with the Client may result in creative reduction and there is a need to understand all steps of Production. The second part is made easy by communicating directly with the people involved and evolving methods to improve the work-flow in a more personal and adaptative way. Also, usually there is a need for multiple specializations, so not everyone can handle a job like this.
STABILITY:
C – Medium to High. Corporations that work in Publicity tend to go through some restructuring when times get rough, so they may fire their Functional-Creatives and outsource their jobs to suppliers (which usually are Small Businesses). But usually they don’t get to the level of being a Corporation without a lot of stability.
SMB – Medium to Low. Small Businesses are rarely made with a good plan in mind and with decent group of people in charge. Usually the qualified employees leave because of the combination between low income and high difficulty. Also, a lot of Clients that don’t have well-defined budgets for Publicity are constantly on a look-out for the cheapest price, so the income itself is not constant.
CREATIVITY:
C – High to Low. While the Difficulty is Medium, the Creative mind is thriving (conditions mentioned below apply). But when the dead-lines become more important than delivering the right product for the Client, the Functional-Creative starts looking for shortcuts at the expense of Creativity. In time, this leads to a degradation of the motivation to innovate and find the best solutions in favor of just satisfying the Superiors. Sometimes Clients have a variation of ideas that they want implemented in a Creative way and this can give the Functional-Creative some chances to experiment. But just sometimes.
SMB – Medium to Very High. Always in their toes and stressed, the Functional-Creatives in this kind of Companies either get very good and constantly evolve, or quit and search for an easier job, with less responsibility. The problem is actually that most Companies underestimate the experience and qualification needed give shape to their crazy ideas and, while some Functional-Creatives also have the mind-set to sell their own ideas, most don’t (in the context of Direct Client Contact). Some Superiors (the ones that have occupied the same kind of position in the past) know how to manage this kind of stress in their employees. But only some.
JOY DE VIVRE:
C – Medium to Low. Corporations are known for imposing a standard for everything. Even for Employee Happiness. Though if the Incentives are OK for most of the Corporate Employees (even Pure-Creatives), the Functional-Creatives tend to be a bit… “off their wagon”. So, they need more work satisfaction than team-buildings and in-office relaxation.
SMB – Medium to Low. The satisfaction of seeing their works take shape is usually offset by the very stress factor and lack of Extra-Benefits or other Incentives.
LIMITATIONS:
C – Huge. The first thing a Corporation asks for, when offering a job to any kind of Creative person, is signing a so-called “Confidentiality Contract”. Actually, it’s a very explicit Exclusivity Contract which mentions that said person can’t use the talents (that made him/her eligible for the position) outside the Corporation, under any and all conditions (even without breaching Confidentiality or realistic Exclusivity) and usually for at least 18 months after leaving that Corporation, without the slightest incentive except the Salary negotiated. Also, every time I’ve encountered this kind of “Confidentiality Contract”, there was also a mention of the Corporation having Copyrights to any work that was created by said person on the same line his/her the Job Specialization, even if that work was made at home, for no commercial motivation, as long as it was developed during the employment. And yes, this also applies if the employment is unilateral voided by the Employer.
To a Pure-Creative, that may be binding, but not fatal to one’s career. Their projects are usually “one-time only” concepts, which means that they can get out pretty easily out of the post-employment bindings by avoiding the use of the same exact order of ideas while working for someone else. (And yes, I have acquaintances that did that quite easy).
But to a Functional-Creative it’s Blackmail, since most of the methods learned in time (to create solutions to specific challenges) can’t just be replaced. As a Cardboard Specialist, I have my own mechanisms for obtaining a variety of solutions, which I combine in different ways, but the building elements remain the same. Contractual Bindings as the ones mentioned above would make it impossible for me to create new Displays and Packages, because I would give away the right to my previously acquired tools and methods just because I use them in the employment of a Corporation.
SMB – Medium to Low. Small and Medium Businesses are mostly aware of the fact that, if they impose too many limitations, they can’t find skillful people to work for them. So, while an employee of a Medium Business, I can also collaborate with a friend in a related field, as long as the Contracts don’t interfere with one-another (the SMB I work for doesn’t have the same clients as my other collaborators). Best thing about this is this is that the friend usually gives me some very challenging works, that help keep my Functional-Creativity animated even through low periods at the SMB.
(Ascending order: Very Low – Low – Medium – High – Very High)
So, even if a Functional-Creative would enjoy a job for a (probably much) better paycheck and a bit less stress, the Limitations are the one big mood-killer. And Mood is actually one of the five most important elements of Creative minds.
This is why Corporations lack great Functional-Creative input.
It’s only natural to run away from a situation that, no matter how attractive looks as long as it’s developing, if the Conditions and Limitations are so restrictive that leave you hanging out to dry, giving all the power and the long-term benefits to the Corporation. Because that’s what Functional-Creatives do – see beyond the appearance, to the core of the problems, to find the best ways of solving them. Only then they decide if a problem is just that or can become a challenge to be resolved…