The Rise of Curators: Exploring the Desire for Meaning and Authority

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Sep 19, 2023

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The Rise of Curators: Exploring the Desire for Meaning and Authority

In today's society, the term "curate" has become increasingly popular. From curated fashion collections to curated art exhibitions, it seems that everyone wants to be a curator. But what does this desire for curating say about our generation?

The word "curate" originates from the Latin word "curatus," which means "to take care of." It implies a sense of authority and authorship, as well as a desire for meaning. Curating is not just about selecting and displaying items; it is about connecting knowledge and creating a narrative. It is driven by curiosity, the desire to know and make connections.

With the rise of the super-curator, we see individuals who travel the world, creating exhibitions that reflect their ideology and position. They become the authority figures in their respective fields, shaping the art world and influencing what is considered valuable and meaningful. The idea of something being "curated" gives us reassurance that what we buy is not just a dress or an object, but a carefully chosen piece from a curated selection.

However, true curation goes beyond exhibition making. It is about collection-based work and being a catalyst, generator, and motivator. A curator is a sparring partner for artists, accompanying them as they build a show, and a bridge builder, connecting the artist's work to the public. It is a role that requires deep knowledge and understanding of the art, the industry, and the business aspects surrounding it.

In the tech world, a similar phenomenon can be observed with the concept of product teams. While there are various types of product teams, the most common ones are delivery teams. These teams focus on output and are not empowered to make decisions or solve problems independently. They are essentially feature teams, where the product manager's role is reduced to facilitation and coordination rather than strategic decision-making.

On the other hand, empowered product teams are cross-functional and focused on outcomes rather than output. They have the autonomy to solve problems in the best way they see fit and are accountable for the value and viability of the product. This model requires deep knowledge of the customer, data, industry, and business aspects. The product manager plays a crucial role in ensuring the success of the product.

So, what can we learn from the rise of curators and the concept of empowered product teams? Here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Embrace curiosity: Curiosity is at the core of both curating and product management. Embrace your curiosity and use it to fuel your desire for knowledge and connection. Be curious about your customers, your industry, and your business. This will enable you to make better decisions and create meaningful products.
  • 2. Seek authority through expertise: To become an authority figure in your field, you need to develop deep knowledge and expertise. Whether you're a curator or a product manager, invest time in learning and understanding your domain. This will give you the confidence and authority to make informed decisions and drive meaningful outcomes.
  • 3. Empower your teams: If you're a leader or manager, empower your teams to make decisions and solve problems independently. Create an environment where cross-functional collaboration is encouraged, and individuals have the autonomy to take ownership of their work. This will foster creativity, innovation, and ultimately lead to better outcomes.

In conclusion, the rise of curators and the concept of empowered product teams reflect a desire for meaning, authority, and autonomy. Curating and product management both require deep knowledge, curiosity, and the ability to make connections. By embracing these qualities and empowering our teams, we can create meaningful products and experiences that resonate with our audience and drive success.

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