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“Production Rehearsal” A New Strategy for Massive Action

Usually production is treated in one of numerous ways. Often we see productions a continual daily process to produce as much results as we possibly can from where we are. Otherwise production is often viewed first as a plan (or a pre-production phase) that must be written and decided upon in advance followed by the execution of action until completion of the current project, initiative or event. This is similar to agile vs waterfall development respectively, practices found in software development. The agile focuses on daily development with less planning while the waterfall chooses to design everything in advance before implementing it as scripted form start to end regardless of potential ideas for change, those usually have to be set aside until the first version is completed.

Some combination, hybrid or medium between these methods either integrated or parallel coordinating the daily production with the longterm planning within the same organization can exist and more or less can be found in most production environments. However I have thought of yet another nuanced method, as I am sure there are many, where we take the strengths of agile and the general ideal of waterfall and combine them in a whole new type of practice, and perhaps resembles the workflows for live shows done in mainstream television, that have to play daily or nightly. You may have noticed that you will get fresh episodes daily from these shows for several months followed by reruns in the “off-season” that is because the intensive labour of making a top-level production quality show live and broadcast every single day on television is highly tasking.

This is achieved by keeping a consistent frame, brand or format from one episode to the other. You may notice many shows online and in television, and in certain cases movies, not only employ tropes, but consistent structures from one episode to the other, whether it be an opening theme, closing credits, consistent sequences of narration to action or a consistent good vs evil structure or someone falls in or out of love in the drama and so on. In short news packages we see consistent wipe aways graphics and tunes that compliment the anchoring on a visually appealing set and the raw footage and on-location reporting in between. Whether it be to save the princess and fight the dragon, these structures are the reason that waterfall style, or an advanced planning and design approach is often deemed strong to allow for easily accessible composition for the audience.

However in those off-season breaks the cast and crew, the producers and directors can then make tweaks and changes to improve the brand, structure, format, quality, methods, and daily process to improve the quality while decreasing the complications and inefficiencies in their system while being clearer about the brand. This off-season gives opportunity to take a step back and see the forest for the trees, reassess your path and decide if it is still going towards where you truly want to head against the compass of your company and adjust accordingly if necessary. This works well in TV land since re-runs can be broadcast live for those that missed those episodes or are beginning to watch the on-seasons of shows that run on alternative season broadcasts. Unfortunately this doesn’t work as well on the internet or social media when you more or less need something fresh consistently, this is also consistent with SEO and algorithms employed by major online networks.

To overcome this I have come up with my own version to apply these kinds of principles effectively which I am calling “Production Rehearsal” this entails that much like theatre you practice the daily process in advance, not simply planning and designing all before hand, but instead getting your hands dirty first in a trial and error mode for research and development purposes. finding out what isn’t only the most functional or resourceful process but which process has the least overhead and most importantly sustainability. By prioritizing sustainability in your trials you can figure out which process is going to be the most likely that you will keep up through practice rather than guessing in advance. This is similar to the principles held in the continual daily process method of learning as you go, but without the pressure and stress of having to do so publicly that comes with a hustle mentality often found in entrepreneurialism.

Once your off-season was completed like a sports team that had been training for this the past several months you go and hit it for several months employing the exact process you refined over the course of those months. You practice it daily for several months, and from there you finish the season and look at your results. I think many of the most successful companies act this way, acting like a sports team, with on and off-seasons, and we see this pattern again and again in many large organizations. This may be obvious to an on-looker but to someone serious about running his own business, as an entrepreneur or startup, may lose sight of the big picture and not see the observable fundamentals in the greatest success. Like most things, if I didn’t say it, you may not have thought of it, but after I say it it seems like anyone could have thought of it and it was quite simple and basic. Sometimes the most simple, basic and fundamental things are the easiest to take for granted and ignore causing great repercussions as a result.

Thus in production of media for instance, to an online audience through websites, forums, blogs, social media, email, apps and other online networks, the stuff that’s all the rage these days, you can employ this “production rehearsal” method to your pipeline by simulating yourself doing daily content and releasing the day of, except without actually releasing any of the content as you finish it, but instead archiving it as part of your “rehearsal.” You can design your own timeline, from one day on, one day off to half-year phases, whatever works for you. For example you can practice for a few weeks, trying to make as much quality finished content for release from scratch everyday as you can within schedule in a timely and consistent matter that is meaningful, after those few weeks are up you can rate your performance and see where you’re going to need to pay attention when you go for the real thing.

Then you will start with the actual “production performance” phase, in my example, going on for a few weeks, where now you actually perform the very process you refined in the previous weeks. This time you have to release the content the day that you make it, whether it be a written article or a live streaming show, to test how effective your R&D stage is against the market. After several weeks of this, as per my example, you end that phase and assess your results and metrics, seeing how you performed in the market, much like checking your numbers after finishing a tournament. From there you can assess what you need to work on in the new development stage. You can take the content from your previous R&D stage, editing or digesting it into the best of the best of that trial period potentially interspersed with related content from your on-season to lee a steady flow of content as you refine your process to the next stage in “rehearsal” to continue to best align with your mission.

During this trial period as well, you have more data to refer to from both your previous agile stage along with the field results from actually having to release freshly made materials daily. From there your new base of development for your process will have better clarity and accuracy for achieving what you’re supposed to with your work. Developing the updated process is in itself a hybrid of both the pre-planned and continual process, waterfall and agile, all in and of itself. That is because during that development you have no strings attached, you do not need to release as you create, giving you the opportunity to try things that you may have been too conservative to implement had you not tried them there before doing it out in the field, like waterfall, yet you are not setting the product to be something preordained but instead using trial and error along with practice to determine the best output instead, much like the agile form of development.

The on-season then also is a hybrid in and of itself in that the process is predetermined by yourself in advance, similar to the design being pre-planned, yet the actual contents therein, can be completely flexible based on that day allowing the opportunity to touch on the most current, relatable and trendy topics if need be. At the same time the development stage not only allows for more inventiveness it is also a resource for content in itself which can be re-organized, reconfigured or arranged into its best state to be used as content for your off-season. Furthermore it is not completely taboo to re-release the exact same content on the same channel, especially if you pre-face it with the fact that it has been previously released (much akin to a “previously recorded” watermark on certain “live” TV broadcasts) so that whether it be an article or podcast, you can have it more easily reach new audiences without being confined to only finding ways to generate interest around an old post.

As usual I think it best to make the most of all the tools you have at your disposal. The above are some tools you can employ today in your brand strategy or company pipeline to achieve better and better results while meeting the high demand of incredibly high frequency and output on the web today. If you combine that with thinking outside of the box and learning the nitty gritty and technicalities of your trade in practice, you can be innovative in a realizable way. This can further influence the industry into progress, further creating new standards that have never before been met, benefitting all of humanity in any way possible whether in bringing a smile to a depressed person or educating someone with vital information to their life’s path or even inspiring someone to be their greater self, all is possible by sticking to the fundamentals while learning the ins and outs of your craft.

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