A little while ago, Christian Buckley (@buckleyplanet) retweeted a link to an intriguing blog post from Scott Brinker (@chiefmartec) entitled Why marketers should learn how to program. Scott’s main points center around the idea that for Marketers to be truly successful these days, they should learn at least the rudiments of software programming. This will give them new tools to succeed in an ever increasingly technology-driven discipline. I was motivated to comment on Scott’s post and wanted to capture and add to my comments here as well.
Understanding enough about the other disciplines related to succeeding at one’s own discipline shouldn’t be important just for Marketing folks. As the pace of innovation and change in the workplace continues to accelerate, it has become more and more important to have people available who can straddle many different disciplines.
In the past – perhaps way back in the 1990s or so – we were used to building teams that had one person representing each discipline. The teams had fairly long lifespans and knowledge areas were sacrosanct. Crossing the lines was frowned upon. Each team member was on the team because they were in a certain department, had a specific knowledge area, or needed to be on the team for political reasons.
Today all that is less often the case. We need teams to coalesce, accomplish, and dismantle in faster and faster cycle times. By building those teams with fewer people who have wider knowledge spans, we can reduce the communication requirements and accelerate accomplishment, thus innovation. Fewer team members with wider knowledge spans is simply a more efficient way to operate. This is especially true because those team members are increasingly likely to be spread widely across geographies and may even work for different organizations.
So, maybe Marketers should learn to program, but Developers should learn good design, Designers should learn basic accounting, Accountants should learn about organizational behavior, HR people should learn something about Marketing, and so forth.
It’s yet another time in history where the “Renaissance man” ought to be in high demand, and therefore should be able to call his (or her, of course) own shots.