Great Expectations

In that odd way that Technorati has of working,the serendipity of incoming links sent me to an old post by Howard Owens about dealing with change –the only thing constant in the news business now is change.

Here’s a competitive advantage, if you can harness it: Be ready for change.

  • There are newspaper companies that either don’t believe things are really going to change, aren’t changing that much, or change won’t effect their businesses.
  • There are newspaper companies that believe things are changing, and believe they are embracing change, but they are still chained to tradition or fixed mindsets.
  • There are newspaper companies that understand change and are ready.

By change, I don’t just mean things will be different. I mean change as a constant state.

Over the last few months I had the same conversation with my course delegates (mostly journos with a smattering of snappers) about why we were doing video. I talk a bit about disruptive technology (see Howard, it does go in 🙂 )- ‘the web has stuck it to you for ages, why not use it to stick it to others for a change’ – and, more importantly, the opportunity to explore new narratives. But whenever I have this chat it wasn’t long before talk came round to the common theme of time to do this thing.

Many feel that by simply coming on the course they left themselves open to the expectation that they could and would produce video straight away

Traditional expectations

I’m really sensitive to this position.

I think that there is still an unreasonable expectation that digital is quick and easy – throw money at the problem and the rest will follow. Video is a prime example of that writ large at the moment. As a recent comment from Mark Comerford points out:

There will be a lot of pressure to use video. Partly because it has a buzz about it and has (wrongly) come to be seen as synonymous with “going digital” and partly because the new kit cost a lot and should therefor be used often. editors and reporters need to be able to resist these pressures.

Thankfully recent comments from powerful voices like Pete Clifton and Mark Whitaker on the scattergun and carbon copy approach to video online go some way to arming the editors and reporters to take this on. But something about that idea of organizations ‘chained to tradition’  still resonated with me.

Sometimes it’s easy to see an organization as the management above you. It’s easy to forget that you are part of that organization and as such may be just as chained to tradition. Perhaps that expectation is the traditional way we deal with change. Perhaps, we are programmed to always believe that whenever something new comes along it will mean that we are expected to do more.

I’m certainly not being critical of the coal face journo or editor here – despite what some may think. More often than not it is poor strategy and communication that’s to blame and sometimes it’s a lack of honesty about the driving motivation behind the adoption of digital. Regardless of the reason, your average joe or jane is left fill the gap left by a lack of clarity and direction.

But it may not just be that your management isn’t communicating with you. Are you communicating with them?

Are you telling them what you can or can’t do or are you just sat there second guessing what they expect?

Even better, don’t wait for them to tell you. Explore, develop and do it anyway.