People have asked me, often, why I don’t blog more about our progress in implementing our C3 organization. The last post was May 10th, a quarter ago.
I try to wait until I have something to say. Something to say requires change. Change requires time. Sometimes too much time for my taste. As the engraving here represents — time reveals all things, and truth is the daughter of time, adversely affected by hypocrisy.
The thoughts and comments of others are updated regularly, usually every week, in the right column, under what I am “paying attention to”. After reviewing the links that have been noted there, it is clear that the media environment has changed a great deal, and there have been many good ideas on how to proceed toward a new future. But, the Three Gorillas noted here over a year ago still remain, blocking change in our traditional media company – organization, culture and technology.
This year, we realized that we would not be able to survive the deepest and steepest decline in our revenue in anyone’s memory, let alone attack the culture and technology issues of creating C3, without truly implementing one organization that separated content creation from product creation. We needed to reduce our expenses. We needed to create focused product management for our existing and contemplated products. We needed services that could effectively support all of those products, including content creation.
As I noted in the May post, we took three operating companies focused on products and created 10 operating divisions which split content creation from product creation, and include:
- Content Creation and Collaboration – developing information content “without an agenda” other than strengthening communities in such a way that the elements are fluid and flexible, and that we can deliver “packages” to existing products
- Commercial Content – just like 1, except clearly with an agenda (buy, attend, believe) – commercial content elements that are fluid and flexible, as well as packaged messages for products
- Product Planning and Development – responsible for profitably reaching audiences with value added packaged products – print, broadcast and digital
- Sales – helping businesses and causes reach audiences
- Publisher – maintaining the integrity of the Opinion page of the newspaper and community development. Works within the Product Planning and Development group (in 3 above) on the profitability of the product
- Digital production – the networks, websites and mobile applications – both development and production
- Broadcast production – transitioning our broadcast production to high definition digital production
- Print production and distribution – producing printed products for us and others, and getting them physically distributed
- Human Resources and facilities – leading us to the proper people, in the appropriate organizations and facilities
- Accounting – providing appropriate financial operating statistics and auditable financial statements
The ten people who agreed to lead these divisions are attacking their new responsibilities with vigor and dedication. How is it going?
In a word, “messy” as recently noted by Becky Lutgen Gardner, who is responsible for the creation of information content without an agenda (#1 above). While this should not have been a surprise, it is still no fun to live through the confusion and anger. We are making progress every day, and have celebrated numerous small wins. We are developing “service level agreements” to make roles and expectations as clear as possible. Yet, the emotional connections we maintain to products and companies often blind us to the relevant tasks of creating a product agnostic local ecosystem of information. Reforming these emotional connections will take time, tasking and new tools.
Even when we get over the emotional barriers, there are the very detailed issues of understanding who is taking primary responsibility for the numerous tasks that must be accomplished every day to keep our business flourishing. Beckey Woodard Cole, who is leading our work force development efforts within the Human Resources division headed by Cathy Terukina (#9 above) created these slides to show the responsibilities for the judgments needed for individual products, while utilizing common content creation.
We have focused the organization on essential tasks and cut our expenses in line with our reduced revenues to maintain operating cash. We have a long way to go to approach our work with the openness, transparency and engagement necessary for success. While this reorganization was absolutely necessary for our survival, and to give us a place to stand to create the C3 local ecosystem of information, we will not make real progress unless and until we can create information in the first instance in such a way that it is fluid and flexible, and can serve multiple products and platforms. That will take some tinkering with the technical infrastructure, another of those Three Gorillas.
Here’s hoping that the progress report on the technical infrastructure is not three months away!
What do you think?