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2017 is for Full Stack Professionals

Today’s businesses need a different type of talent to compete in a different kind of economy, one that's connected and always changing at the speed of a Google search. They need full-stack professionals, people who are good in more than one discipline, to create connections at a faster pace.
While this principle can apply to any industry, I will give you an example that is close to home: advertising.
Advertising, as in many industries, used to mirror Ford’s assembly line. We have different departments (e.g., account, creative, and planning), each one playing a different role to deliver an end product, an advertising campaign.
Digital has disrupted this model. A person armed with a smartphone has the power to ideate, plan, create, and distribute a personal or a brand story.
Today’s versions of Don Draper from Mad Men are YouTube influencers, not ad agencies. They are accounts, planners, creatives, and producers in one person. They have even managed to build a legion of followers, which provides their distribution network. We can make the same case for startups whose founders need to wear many hats.
The difference between the past and present is technology. In the past, we needed to be big to compete. Today we don’t. A team of five people can build a billion-dollar company (e.g., Whatsapp and Instagram). Small with a cross-functional team is the new big.
What does this mean for advertising? A full stack ad man or woman must be able to plan, create, and distribute stories across platforms, regardless of their role in an agency or company. Creativity is no longer for creatives. Planning is not for planners only. The account is not owned by the account executives.
This cross-functional model does not mean a break up from disciplines in an agency. We still need experts in those areas. I am just advocating for an increase in the toolbox to create more opportunities and stronger connections at a faster pace.
The challenge with becoming a full stack professional is breaking up with social norms. We are not supposed to be creative, so we don't create. Even if we try, we won’t be good at first because we don't have enough practice. Thus, we tend to avoid it all together.
I believe that people can be great at more than one thing. Change is never easy, but in the long run, it is worth the sacrifice. We will learn new skills, which will make us more competitive and independent in the digital economy. Furthermore, if we love what we do, we will have more fun doing it. Hence, go and become a full stack professional in 2017 if you are not already.


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