There are many different levels of being at the forefront of technology: There’s the leading edge, where you’re using the news most broadly supported technologies. There’s the cutting edge, where you’re working on bringing a new idea to a larger audience. And then there’s the bleeding edge, where you’re wantonly investigating every last thing that sounds like it might have impact, but you really cannot tell whether it’ll sink or swim (hence the term ‘bleeding’). As such, trying to remain on the bleeding edge is a dangerous and ultimately frustrating endeavor, because by the time you’ve built up the skills to properly explore an idea either your goal is outdated, your skills are outdated, or both.
As economic realities trickle down through the manufacturing and service supply chains, I’m starting to hear distressing news from my colleagues at other agencies. Work is beginning to dry up, either because clients realize that it’s more cost effective to bring the larger projects in-house, or because their budgets are getting cut as a result of reduced consumer spending. Everyone seems to be fairly certain that things are going to get worse before they get better, and as a result everyone is battening down their hatches to weather the expected storm.
Bad news like that is almost inevitably followed up by commiseration about how many hours they’ve had to work recently, how they’re constantly under pressure to put in more, or how their coworkers have had enough and have left for greener… or at least less stressful pastures. This in and of itself isn’t necessarily bad- we all understand the pressures of marketing and agency work, and a certain amount of dedication to the project deliverables are par for the course. Yet when weekly hours exceed 50 on a regular basis, you’re buying short term productivity by draining both current and future creativity of your talent. Speaking from experience, gradual burnout is still burnout, leaving long-term scars, and the tightening of client budgets and inevitable cannibalization of the RFP bid has resulted in even more frightening stories: Talented designers and developers are going on antidepressants because of their work load (True story, source withheld).