• Wanted: New Ideas

    April 29th, 2011

    When was the last time you had a new idea?  Something truly innovative or interesting that could possibly create value?

    Although we are no longer an industry with its head stuck in sand, we have failed to create an environment that embraces new ideas.  We are still an industry with its head down driven by expense control and hell bent on doing more with less.  “Research & Development”  is a significant line item in most budgets regardless of the industry.  That has never been the case in local media and if there were ever a time when R&D should be front center it is now.  Unfortunately, stock price sensitivity, bank loan covenants and the demand for hitting a short-term number is FAR more important than long-term viability.  I get it, but I think its short-sighted and balanced much too heavily on today.  Investing in new ideas and new opportunities now is what will restore our margins and provide long-term dividends.

    Harvard Business icon Clayton Christensen teaches us the following:

    Finance and economics principles teach us to ignore “sunk and fixed” costs when we evaluate alternative business opportunities.  Instead, we should base decisions on marginal costs and marginal revenues that each alternative entails.   This doctrine biases companies to leverage what “they have put in place to succeed in the past,” instead of guiding them to “create capabilities needed in the future.”  If we knew the future would be exactly the same as the past, that approach would be fine.  But, if the future is different (and it clearly is for local media) then it is the wrong thing to do.

    We must become idea-driven companies filled with exciting, idea-generating people from top to bottom.

    Our success should  no longer be based on the past (50% margins), but on the future (a new found relevancy).

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  • In Search of Leaders

    April 22nd, 2011

    Step back.  Look around the building. Are your direct reports leaders or managers?

    Local media executives must continue to evolve from being managers to leaders.  The operating model for local media clearly needs a dramatic reset, a fresh perspective, right?  However, the overwhelming majority of stations still operate the same way they did 30 years ago (but with less people) despite unbelievable changes in consumer behavior.  Sure, everyone does more, but how many companies actually do it different?   This is an industry under siege and it desperately needs LEADERS.

    • Leaders create change.  Managers get a known job accomplished.

    • Leaders embrace opportunities and break the old rules.  Managers live by them.

    • Leaders see the possibilities during unstable times.  Managers focus on doing more with less.

    • Leaders originate.  Managers imitate.

    • Leaders challenge the status quo.  Manager work within it.

    • Leaders do the right thing.  Managers do things right.

    We must all understand that change, constant change is the opportunity.

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  • Scale vs. Smart

    April 21st, 2011

    Scale is no longer the difference between success and failure.   Sometimes being smarter, more savvy and flying under the radar is a better strategy than BIG.

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