Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Photo: Set Me Loose

by Thomas Hawk

Beautiful shot

Thank you!

"He who relies entirely on his own judgment ever regrets it." Ibn Iskandar

Fred Jacobs
blogs, again, about radio's "short bench" saying the "talent pool has become a puddle." Read Fred's post here. This is another symptom of radio's leadership problem. The failure of stations to replace Stern is illustrative. Carson and Rather are two obvious case studies from TV. NBC's fourth place in prime is not an accident, ratings bounce or other aberration happening outside the executive suite. MSNBC is a failure by the hands of professionals.

No plan B.

The broadcasting business is really good about living in the moment. Activity is focused on optimization, about getting better today. Thinking the future will simply be another sustained version of today. What broadcasting consistently fails to do is think about a different future. What's clearly indicated is the need for a serious investment in scenario planning (e.g., Royal Dutch/Shell method).

What if Howard's plane goes down?
What if Letterman does not agree to another extension?

The opportune time to search for talent, the best time to gather options for discussion and decision is before you have any real need. To begin looking at the first notice of need is fraught with peril. The odds are against good decision making.

The urgent drives out the important.

You end up "settling."

You end up rationalizing failure. Buy into the false argument that there is "no one out there" then convincing yourself that you can build your own show from scratch - too often occasions when no one on the management team has ever successfully done such a thing.

You begin accepting mediocre performance with the justification that "it is what it is" and taking solace in the fact that you are saving money, spending much less time managing problem talent and sleeping better now that the fear of FCC fines or potential litigation have left the building.

You end up tempted to go long on the wrong equity against all reasonable logic and evidence (e.g., Rover and Roth). Intellectual honesty becomes the first casualty. The spin is in. Everyone on the team drinks the Kool-Aid and agrees "it doesn't suck" or goes along with the suggestion that "we need to give it some time, it will get better."

You're wrong. It rarely gets better (especially on its own, absent skilled nurturing). You are playing with live ammo using Powerball odds. Betting the farm that you can duplicate or "scale" catching lightning in a bottle requires courage, imagination and resilience of super-sized orders of magnitude. For example, replication of the Keith Olbermann metamorphosis from one-off temp to prime star first requires you find another talent, one different from just another Olbermann. To succeed sooner you must learn how to fail faster. You need more than luck and hope. Kismet is a bonus not a plan. Serendipity is the stuff of Hallmark made-for-TV movies, you can't count on it to pay the bills. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

You need to take charge of your own destiny.

You need creative leadership.

Start by facing the reality of your circumstance. Reality, as it is not as it was nor as you wish it to be.

NEXT: Creating your future.


Anonymous said...

David, you are exactly on the mark here. Wimps and fools in the management ranks are at the heart of the train wrecks we are subjected to hearing on-air. Managers are afraid of losing their jobs AND afraid of the real deal - talent. Boring is safe but still boring. Thanks to you for your grounded view of the story behind the story. Love your blog. Cheers! Jessica