Brian Reich, author of one of my new favorite books, Shift and Reset, shared a NY Times article on the renovation of the Washington Post to adapt to the digital media ecosystem.
“He (Marcus Brauchli, The Washington Post’s executive editor) is charged with maintaining the standards and legacy of a great institution — in this case, the newspaper of Katharine Graham, Ben Bradlee and Mr. Woodward and Carl Bernstein — while confronting the harsh reality that in the digital age, the grandeur is gone.”
Digital media and the proliferation of user generated content bursted many organizations grandeur bubble, including many ministries. Before abundant information it was easy for organizations to resist collaboration and pretend that they were the only ones doing what they were doing. With people from both the inside and outside of the organization constantly producing digital media it’s almost impossible to maintain a controlled image that fosters grandeur.
“Just because The Washington Post used to be a certain way doesn’t mean The Washington Post has to be that way in the future.”
Leaders who innovate in large, established organizations often make changes that feel like a compromise to many insiders. For those that truly grapple with the “new” of new media, they will experiment with strategies and tactics that cause internal turmoil. Unfortunately many people inside an organization can see these as a signal of the demise when the leader sees it as an opportunity for renovation.
“He brought large flat-screen monitors into the newsroom that projected in real time what the most popular stories were online. He installed a new internal publishing system that required reporters to identify Google-friendly key words and flag them before their stories could be edited.”
Displaying and leading with real-time data leads to tremendous cultural change. It’s easy to get into opinion wars when seeking to lead innovation, and those on the digital media side often lose due to either being less senior or vastly outnumbered. Accessing, displaying, and integrating real-time data into the decision-making processes of the entire organization will minimize opinion wars and maximize conversations that lead to transformative results.
“And if their computers are registered with a government suffix — .gov, .mil, .senate or .house — editors know they are reaching the readers they want. “That’s our influential audience,” Mr. Narisetti said. “If a blog is over all not doing that great but has a higher percentage of those, we say don’t worry about it.”
The shift to digital media cannot happen solely in quanity (converting old to new) but must include quality (reaching the right people with their new media). The Post seeks more than pageviews–it seeks to reach influencers.