The art of dematurity

In our curious and relentless pursuit of the 'next big thing', are we unintentionally sacrificing the timeless pillars of quality and experience? At the heart of this question lies the concept of 'dematurity', a term encapsulating the endeavours of businesses seeking to breathe new life into mature industries to rekindle their youth. David Flanagan, director of content and strategy at P2 Content Creators, examines if the media and marketing industry is at risk.

While our dynamic industry innovates at breakneck speed – one question stands firm: In our curious and relentless pursuit of the next big thing – whether this be new ways of working in terms of teams and talent, or incorporating the latest technology – are we unintentionally sacrificing the timeless pillars of quality and experience?

At the heart of this question lies the concept of ‘dematurity,’ a term coined by Harvard Business School professors William Abernathy and Kim Clark in the early ‘90s. Encapsulating the endeavours of businesses seeking to breathe new life into mature industries, the concept explores those industries working to rekindle their youth.

In our pursuit of keeping up with Jones’, is the Australian marketing and advertising industry at risk of dematurity?


I’d argue that at some point in our careers, most of us have been guilty of losing focus to chase the next ‘big thing’, running the risk of jeopardising the established, trusted and reliable ways of working. By doing so, we may compromise our clients’ confidence in the fact they are in safe hands. In our increasingly chaotic environment, trust remains paramount for successful and long-term working relationships.

With similarities akin to the well-known phrase Age before Beauty, this allure of youth-centric trends may overshadow the wealth of expertise possessed by more experienced professionals. As organisations navigate the balance between embracing innovation and valuing experience, it is crucial to recognise the need for a harmonious integration of both, ensuring a workforce that is not only dynamic, innovative and forward-thinking but is also anchored in the reliability and trustworthiness that comes with years of expertise.

According to the Experience Advocacy Taskforce (EAT), a mere 5% of the media workforce is aged 50 or over, a staggering seven times less than the Australian average. This statistic raises another crucial question: what does the future of the industry look like, if we agree on the need for a diverse workforce that represents deep experience, as well as up and coming talent?

As I approach the ripe age of 50, the future of the industry and how we can best strike this balance has weighed heavily on my mind. Reflecting upon my 20 years in the industry and recent experiences at P2 Content Creators, I’ve observed a fascinating dynamic from both sides of the generation gap.

As you may guess, these symbiotic relationships are often not without challenges. Bridging the gap in order to make the most from a diverse workforce requires a culture that fosters and values mentorship and collaboration. The rise of WFH only exacerbated these challenges by removing the little moments in the day where – on the off chance – we would bump into colleagues who we might not typically engage with regularly. These informal moments allowed folk to chit-chat. Chit-chat leads to conversation and understanding – this is where the gaps are closed.

Of course, formal programmes can work, and have been proven to do so. But so does the informal, less structured approach. It’s not about gutting the way we operate, it’s about better influencing these moments, where seasoned professionals can share their wealth of experience, and provide invaluable guidance and perspective, while the up and coming talent inject a refreshing dose of creativity and a pulse on the latest trends.

While seasoned team members are well-versed in the industry’s nuances and able to navigate through projects with an established understanding of the briefs and the work at hand, there’s no denying that the younger demographic are largely leading the pack in terms of innovation, with an eagerness to try and test the new ways of operating. It’s imperative that we recognise both cohorts hold equal value and have the ability to benefit immensely from each other.

By doing so, and celebrating and acknowledging the unique strengths of each other, I’m confident our industry has the opportunity to truly benefit from the best of both worlds, providing world-class creativity and innovation for brands, underpinned by a confidence from the marketing teams behind them. By harnessing the collective power of experience and innovation, we can propel our industry forward and recognise the benefits of a future bedded in quality and progress.

David Flanagan is director of content and strategy at P2 Content Creators.


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