If necessity is the mother of invention, then one could posit that variation is the father of reinvention. Marry the two — necessity and variation — and you’re left with an offspring of risk and reward.
Take this magazine, for example. There’s a whole lot of necessity that goes into pulling together all the content and delivering it in a fashion that meets your needs. A tight production schedule ensures a timely delivery, while page templates provide a consistent format to help simplify the layout.
That’s the boring, requisite side to producing a magazine. It doesn’t win awards and it doesn’t set most hearts aflutter, but it does get the job done.
Design elements are where variation comes into play. They shape and accent the magazine with warm, alluring tones and bold, provocative images to illustrate the meaning behind the words. On occasion the design may miss the mark. It may poorly represent the point of the article. There may be abstractions or mixed metaphors — or attention-grabbing headlines — that produce the wrong impression. That’s the risk of artful creation.
In the creative concept discussion between Editorial and Design, the editor may have bungled the message — or the graphic designer may have misinterpreted the description. That’s the risk of collaboration. And the risk of striving for greatness over mediocrity.
What’s the reward of putting together a magazine? It’s knowing how to summon the courage of a trapeze artist seeking a moment of awe from the audience. It’s knowing when you’ve nailed your landing. It’s knowing that you’ve connected with your readers and added a welcome diversion to their day, an unmistakable light.
This month’s cover story, “A Stock Performance Plan of the Future?,” focuses on the risks and rewards associated with innovative compensation plans. It examines the significant amount of risk more than 300 employees are willing to take on their company’s stock market performance. And it speaks to the rarity of a plan that offers performance-based incentives below the senior executive level.
Axon’s decision to allow employees to opt into the same plan as their CEO may be an anomaly. It also may be a public relations coup that breaks the mold for how companies look to differentiate in a tight labor market. Rolling out nontraditional equity comp plans may help with recruitment. In addition, such plans should help with retention, especially when you’re grooming micro-business entrepreneurs who are driven to settle for nothing short of greatness.