I got to thinking the other day. Whenever you have finished watching a movie or a TV-production, you are presented with the closing credits, where all the people involved in making the movie a reality are presented by name and function. See this example of the BBC guidelines illustrating the granularity going into these. All the way from the lead actors to people with minor contributions to the movie as such. Come to think of it, this is a really interesting and quite nice tradition. You have a project to deliver a movie within a budget and time frame, and all the people joining the ranks to execute the plan are honored very publicly and transparently. This yields a couple of very positive outcomes;

  • People working in the movie industry get their personal “brand” embedded in all, or at least most, final products
  • Consumers gets some level of insight into the different functions and responsibilities that goes into creating a full movie
  • The publicly accessible information regarding who did what, and in what productions, i.e. an attributed cross-reference between person and a movie offers the foundations for rich meta data driven services online, where IMDB is one such example

Now, I do not know the background as to why these disclosing closing credits exists. Wikipedia did not offer any deeper insights. I can imagine that the following, at least to some degree, has made an influence:

  1. This being a highly creative business from senior management and throughout the organizations, where all share the same respect for the creativity and contribution of the individual
  2. This being, by nature, a gig-based business. The complete product is assembled in a relatively short frame of time by a tight-knit team

The idea that struck me is that this is not too different from the context found in the new economy forming before our very eyes. For example, I think it goes without saying that creating a mobile application or a web site requires a lot of ingenuity and creativity. The same goes for editing a magazine or crafting an advertisement. Oftentimes entire iterations, or individual features, are delivered through a similar project/team based setup as in a traditional media production. The people pouring their expertise and creativity into this, however, are largely unknown to outsiders. Who took part in developing the Reddit gold feature? Who quality assured the current iteration of the Netflix recommendation engine? Using LinkedIn, you can kind of make educated guesses. But this requires that the individuals themselves keep their resumes updated in the various online experience databases available.

Companies on the other hand, generally, do absolutely nothing to promote the individuals crafting their product(s) nor publicly associate themselves with any of their employees. Apart from the occasional and generic executive press releases and biographies, of course. I realize that this has been the norm throughout the history of modern business, where there has been much to gain from anonymizing the worker as much as possible to make him/her replaceable. Especially in the wake of the industrial revolution, where the assembly line was designed to cater to a high throughput of a generic and faceless work force. Any attribution to an individual would travel word-to-mouth.

Today, however, things have changed:

  1. Information flows digitally and freely across the world, at basically no cost
  2. We move towards a gig economy, where the notion of a lifetime employment quickly has withered, to be replaced by much shorter stints as companies, even solely project-based employements
  3. Automation increasingly removes the need for humans to staff assembly-line style work, and where many of us instead find ourselves in a very creative and intellectually demanding environment
  4. This, in turn, makes the individual unique

Combined, we are moving towards a working environment resembling that of a media production. The same rationale used when crediting such a production to the persons involved in making it happen, should be possible to apply to other areas. Accordingly, I strongly believe that companies should humanize the products they create, by putting the names and faces of the people spending most their time awake building these on display. Promote your employees, and be proud of your superstars!. This will ultimately, as I see it, benefit employees, the employers and customers, as the otherwise faceless corporations become powered by actual humans.