incorporate project-oriented collaborative teams that not only bring out the best in each
other but are also able to internally challenge an organization to examine what is working
and then build on those capacities to create something new. This positive spiral of
capacity building reaching from the individual to the organization and then dynamically
entwining them together is the new model for best practices in working relationships. As
noted in a “Sustainable Innovation” article, “Future business schools will look more like
design schools – alive with design studios, interdisciplinary teams, and rapid prototyping –
where managers act as designers who recognize disruptive, unexpected innovation
opportunities” (Cooperrider, 2008).
The new nimble worker, often personified by the freelancer, is someone that has been a
frontrunner working in the creative interdisciplinary model. The freelancer has the capacity
to enter an organization and get up to speed quickly, decipher what is working, improvise
with the resources at hand, and to communicate with dialogic processes that are respectful
of partnership while allowing for “soloing and supporting” (Barrett, 2012) roles.
This “migrant creative” study is vital given that “70 million people will not be in a job (up
from around 40 million today) by 2020. Going freelance will be the dominant experience,”
according to an article in Forbes which examines a workforce where close to one-half of all
Americans by 2020 will be self-employed or working on professional freelance teams with
varying levels of expertise and education. Shaughnessy stresses that the new employer
and employee ecosystem, built on strong group loyalty, is comprised of freelance teams
ready to “step into an expansion opportunity and fill it out quickly” and contributes to “the
reason why the big consulting companies will double in size by 2020” (Shaughnessy, 2012
Although the word “independent” inevitably becomes attached to the freelancer, the focus
of this dissertation is to change the association to “interdependent” as a reminder of our
ongoing relational collaboration evident from the negotiation phase to the completion of a
project. As per-project work teams are now becoming more commonplace, it is essential
to study freelancers who have a long history of improvisation and collaboration.
Given the pro-youth focus in the media industry, it is unusual to find participants whose
work history spans decades – and this study is critical given that workers are staying in the
workforce longer and will continue to work on intergenerational creative teams in the future.
“Collaboration across generational lines is an improvisational activity” (Bava, personal
communication, 2012). See chapter “The Generative Years: Living What’s Next.”