Monday, March 17, 2008

"Would you persuade, speak of interest not of reason." Benjamin Franklin

"There is nothing like success to blind one of the possibility of failure." Roger Lowenstein

"A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that his is wiser today than he was yesterday." Jonathan Swift

Today's image: The avenue in mist and sun by algo. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

"Find out what happened"

Facing the R&R TRS crowd: CBS TV news ace Bob Schieffer did a simply outstanding job speaking before folks attending the Talk Radio Seminar. His observations, storytelling style every bit as crisp and classic as the Burberry shirt he wore. Bob said every newsroom should post a sign over the door reminding news people of their primary mission..."Find out what happened." Bravos to Bob for plainly making the case for the much needed protections of a federal shield law. Talk radio star Jim Bohannon kicked off the Q&A asking about Bob's plans after Jan 09. The broadcast news icon indicated his thought was to do less but still stay on with CBS. Kudos to Erica Farber & company for inviting Bob.

Tim Russert hosted a good show with Pulitzer winning presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin on the subject of most important leadership attributes. The complete list later. Here are four...

Withstand adversity

Diverse perspectives


Admit mistakes

Doris' list should be one of the scorecards used to evaluate all leadership (especially today's broadcast leadership).

Reading the new Richard Sennett book, The Craftsman. Highly recommended (Amazon info). Sennett writes about "The Workshop" and my thought is this is an excellent metaphor for today's broadcast shop.

"His Secrets Died with Him"
In Stradivari's Workshop

"In modern parlance, knowledge transfer became difficult; the master's originality inhibited the transfer. This difficulty remains, in scientific laboratories as much as in artist's studios. Although in a lab the neophyte can be inducted in procedures, it's harder for a scientist to pass on the capacity to look suspiciously for new problems in the course of solving old ones or to explain the intuition formed from experience that a problem is likely to wind up a dead-end."

"The difficulty of knowledge transfer poses a question about why it should be so difficult, why it becomes a personal secret...Yet in the fabrication of musical instruments, the secrets of masters like Antonio Stradivari or Guarneri del Gesu have indeed died with them. Mountains of cash and endless experiments have failed to prize out the secrets of these masters. Something in the character of these workshops must have inhibited knowledge transfer."

"When Antonio Stradivari died, he passed on the business to his two sons, Omobono and Francesco, who never married and who spent their adult lives in their father's house as his servant-heirs. They were able to trade on his name for several years, but the business eventually foundered. He had not taught, he could not teach either of them how to be a genius."

"Missing in these analyses (of the master's work) is a reconstruction of the workshops of the master - more precisely, one element that has irretrievably gone missing. This is the absorption into tacit knowledge, unspoken and uncodified in words, that occurred there and became a matter of habit, the thousand little everyday moves that add up in sum to a practice.

The most significant fact we know about Stravidari's workshop was that he was all over it, popping up unexpectedly everywhere, gathering in and processing those thousands of bits of information that could not signify in the same way to assistants who were doing just one part. The same thing has been true in scientific labs run by idiosyncratic geniuses; the master's head becomes stuffed with information only he or she can see the point of. This is why the secrets of the physicist Enrico Fermi as a great experimenter can't be fathomed by poring over the minutiae of his lab procedures.

To put this observation abstractly: in a workshop where the master's individuality and distinctiveness dominates, tacit knowledge is also likely to dominate. Once the master dies, all the clues, moves, and insights he or she has gathered into the totality of the work cannot be reconstructed; there's no way to ask him or her to make the tacit explicit." (emphasis mine)

Chapter Two, The Workshop. The Craftsman by Richard Sennett.

Earlier in the same chapter Sennett writes about originality to wit:

"'Originality' traces its origins back one Greek word, poesis, which Plato and others used to mean 'something where before there was nothing.' Originality is a marker of time; it denotes the sudden appearance of something where before there was nothing, and because something suddenly comes into existence, it arouses in us emotions of wonder and awe. In the Renaissance, the appearance of something sudden was connected to the art - the genius, if you will - of an individual."

Individuals, leaders, let me go so far as to say modern masters the likes of Paley, Primo, Storz, McLendon, Drake, and Donahue (to mention but a few), are the folks who led the sudden appearance of something, they caused events to happen, took control of circumstance while others looked on. What broadcast needs today, in the very least, is exceptional leadership at the station level. Nothing less than great general managers.

Bonus: Academic Blogger Takes Vulture's Spoiler Policy to Task. Kudos to Dan and Lane!

Congrats & cheers: Jamie Dimon (my favorite rock star banker) acquires Bear for a fraction of its book. Les Moonves continues to move CBS into the export business. Smart, very smart.

Cali red: Block No. 45, Petite Sirah 2005. Wonderful, smooth. Amazing value at $10.