Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"The poet must not cross an interval with a step when he can cross it with a leap." Joseph Joubert

"It is the business of the future to be dangerous." Alfred North Whitehead

"A writer dies when he ceases to have, and exercise, omnivorous curiosity." Ezra Pound

Image: self portrait by (rhythm and) days. Killer shot. Thank you.

Congrats & cheers: GenieTown launches. Jon Miller joins OpenX as chairman.

Getting better v Getting different

Getting better is the dangerous trap that is incrementalism.

Getting better is a self-serving illusion, a wrong headed focus on activities over results.

Getting better is playing it safe, being preoccupied with market share, the numerator.

Getting different is disruptive, an intellectually honest challenge to business as usual.

Getting different requires the courage to abandon industry dogma, putting results first.

Getting different involves risk, being preoccupied with market creation, the denominator.

Sam Zell understands that getting better will not begin to fix the problems at Tribune. Speaking to employees at Trib Tower yesterday he said "If we keep operating the way we've been operating, there is no future." (Related Trib story).

This reminded me of something said by the legendary broadcaster Larry Haeg "If we are doing things the same way today as we were last season, we are behind the times...Ideas are our stock in trade. Contribute new ones without fear as to who will get the credit."

When questioned about his use of profanity Zell responded "I'm not disrespecting anybody. I'm trying to make everybody uncomfortable...This business has been eroding before your eyes and you're worried about my language?...this is a crisis. We've got to save this business."

Bravos to Sam Zell!

The first major hurdle is shifting the focus, the attention and mindset to the important and away from the urgent. The inertia of "that's the way we've always done things around here" is as powerful as it is seductive. Tradition is a wonderful way to rationalize failure right down to the last dollar of the enterprise. Which brings to mind one of Shaw's insights, to wit: "Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." Thinking is hard work and thinking is what Sam Zell is trying to get the Trib folks to start doing, it's exactly the right strategy.

At war for talent, continued: Gates on Yahoo: It's the people. Ina Fried has the story here.