Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Thank God for screw-ups, for if life had adhered strictly to six sigma rules, we’d all still be slime." Gary Hamel

"Mindless habitual behavior is the enemy of innovation." Rosabeth Moss Kanter

"It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to management than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely the lukewarm defense in those who gain by the new ones." Nicolo Machiavelli

Today's image: canal by Banksy. Wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

It's the top line, stupid.

Broadcast leadership continues to be obsessed with tweaking the numerator.

My sense is too many are still keeping score like it's 1999. Preoccupied with optimization they continue to fail because they do not yet appreciate the critical importance of recognizing and unlocking the incredible value inherent in attempts at bold innovation. Truth be known, playing around with numerator has reached beyond the point of diminishing returns. To be blunt, optimization strategies for broadcast operators are well past their best used by date. Attention and resources continue to be invested in getting better at a game that is less and less relevant. Over the past ten years every department (and related function mission systems) at broadcast stations has fundamentally changed with one exception - sales. Proof of this abounds. Any candid accounting of results produced will tend to support this assertion. Let me suggest the best (and most important) evidence may be found by talking with buyers. How has the "broadcast buying experience" changed? How does this experience stack up when compared to other media options?

If you always do what you've always done,
you'll get what you've always gotten

Permit me to invoke an old saw from Zig Ziglar "Two sure ways to fail. Think and never do or do and never think." Broadcast leadership appears to have cornered the market on both. Enough! My thought (confirmed by recent experience) is the new game is getting really serious about changing the denominator. Sales development - the hard work of driving new top lines. Getting fresh and creative in perspective and approach. Experimentation. Discovery. Learning how to respect, appreciate and reward the art of failing faster in order to succeed sooner.

On the day job we have observed the best "return on imagination" begins with unvarnished discussion concerning the creation of new markets rather than the same old fights over how to grow an increasingly irrelevant metric - silo share of a declining market. Going to work to kill the guy across the street is simply not an effective strategy in driving top line development and the entire ball game is, plainly, to continually, consistently and creatively develop the top line without any excuse. To develop your top line you'll need to invest in developing your people.

Invite and encourage cognitive diversity in your organization

Paul Jacobs offers a writing that merits the attention of radio and TV leadership. Follow The (Shrinking) Money - his post on the Jacobs Media blog, is a call to action, to wit:

"...if we don't make major moves in our sales and marketing
strategies, we're in real trouble"

Read Paul's entire post, here. Kudos to Paul, he is right on the money. He presents a well-reasoned case for changing up the game and getting into a whole new reality, the competition that is measured media fighting for dollars at the dawn of the 21st century mediascape.

Congrats and cheers: Robert Feder, by far the best and brightest writer of his generation to cover the media beat, has returned. His new home is, a new media venture of the Chicago Public Radio folks. More, in his own words, here. Welcome to the conversation, Rob. You've been missed.

Bonus: Cool kid Mary Meeker and her colleagues at Morgan Stanley delivered an important presentation at the Web 2.0 Summit. You may access the PDF of their presentation - Economy + Internet Trends - here. Bravos to Mary and the Morgan gang on a job well done.

Oldie but goodie: Malcolm Gladwell from 2004 on spaghetti sauce. Thanks, as ever, to TED.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Fear is the mortal enemy of creativity." Alex Bogusky

"Originality is deliberate and forced, and partakes of the nature of a protest." Eric Hoffer

"When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something...That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things." Steve Jobs

Today's image: Bart1 by Banksy. Great work. Thank you for sharing.

Minding the Gap

For those of us working in measured media, we are living in times of incredible disruption and, it seems to me, equally incredible opportunity. The question needing attention is how do we make the best of our present circumstances? How do we most effectively navigate the gap, from our past analog successes and through today's rough waters to the brave new digital frontier?

Elizabeth L. Eisenstein has provided us with an excellent guidebook. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (Amzn). Her writing does an outstanding job of helping us to understand how technology can trigger dramatic and unimaginable change. Let me also suggest a fresh reading of Marshall McLuhan. Stephanie McLuhan and David Staines have produced an exceptional book pulling together McLuhan lectures and interviews in Understanding Me with a forward by the great American writer Tom Wolfe (Amzn)

In giving my talks on social media this year I have mentioned some conventional radio station jobs (e.g., the overnight, midday and part-time weekend disc jockey) using the metaphor of 15th century scribes (inspired by the brilliant Michael Rosenblum). Getting a job working for the church as a scribe was about as good as it could get way back in the day. It was the ultimate job security, working for the rock solid employer of choice. And then, everything changed. Working as a liner reading announcer now seems an anomaly, an occupational accident of pure chance. In the not too distant future winning a bar bet suggesting that people once made a wage good enough to support a family and buy a home by simply playing music (and little more than reading formatted remarks four times an hour) will be, well, practically impossible.

My father was a musician and did some work in radio. When TV came along the musicians union told its members that their radio jobs would be safe. When it was suggested that radio would replace live musical performances by playing recordings - the same phonograph records available for purchase by the listeners - the union said "Radio intends to play the same records that the public can buy and play whenever they wish? It will never work." To my knowledge, there are no musicians on staff at any radio stations today. By the way, my dad reinvented himself. He decided to end his successful career as a musician and band leader, he took a flyer and went off to play the records. He never looked back. Johnny Martin had the audacity to ignore the conventional wisdom and the accepted rules of the day, he helped to put on the air the first black owned radio station in the nation, WERD in Atlanta. It happened this month in 1949.

Don't Keep Calm and Carry On

The important challenge of broadcast managers today is minding the gap, building a bridge to the digital future and that's a mission that will require first creating a magnet, a culture that fosters innovation. Broadcasters must attract the best ideas.

While there is certainly a lot of talk about the challenges and problems of our current situation there is far too little discussion and resources focused on actual solutions. Too often activity is being mistaken for progress. There's not enough implementation, experimentation, effective execution. We must adopt a dead serious bias for action. Discovering solution sets should be the proper focus most deserving of our attention. Please permit me to again say ... It's not about getting better, it's about getting different. It's all about shifting focus from the numerator to the denominator.

As it happens we have an app for that today. Edison Media's Tom Webster recently presented a wonderful webinar - A Small, Good Thing - on behalf of the Conclave. You may access a recording of Tom's webinar, here. Word to the wise - put Tom's blog, BrandSavant, in your reader, it's here. [FD: I serve on the board of the Conclave. Let me also thank and credit moleitau for his killer image shown here above left]

Bonus: Cool kid Alex Bogusky has some good writing on offer - Creative directors are in the business of professional insanity - well worth your bandwidth, here.

Wait, there's more: Still feel the need to read? Check out what I've been reading via delicious, here.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

"No one cares about how much you know until they know how much you care." Jerry McGee

"Hire slowly. Fire quickly. It's not the people you fire that hurt you. It's the people you don't fire." Marcio Moreira

"Don't get intimidated by the world out there. Most people don't have a clue." Dennis Scully

Today's image: Banksy by Martin in London. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Please take 16:31 to watch today's video feature. It's a wonderful talk by Beau Lotto, the founder of Lottolab studio. Opticial illusions show how we see. My thanks, as always, to TED.

"Beau Lotto's color games puzzle your vision, but they also spotlight what you can't normally see: how your brain works. This fun, first-hand look at your own versatile sense of sight reveals how evolution tints your perception of what's really out there."

"Why is context everything?"

No one is an outside
observer of nature

Each of us is defined
by our ecology

...ecology is necessarily
relative, historical and empirical

Thursday, October 01, 2009

"Creativity is thinking new things. Innovation is doing new things." Theodore Levitt

"Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add but when there is nothing more to take away." Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"Social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it, nobody knows how. When it's finally done, there is surprise it's not better." Avinash Kaushick

Today's image: Think, Create, Experience by Amanda Mac. Very cool shot. Thanks for sharing.

Allow me to again suggest that in matters related to media and marketing we are living in times of dramatic fundamental change, incredible disruption, amazing opportunity.

Recently I picked up Understanding Me: Lectures and Interviews by Marshall McLuhan. Edited by Stephanie McLuhan and David Staines, with a forward by the gifted writer Tom Wolfe. It's a wonderful read. [Amzn info]

From a McLuhan lecture at Georgetown University in 1964...

"In moving from the neolithic age to the electronic age, we move from the mode of the wheel to the mode of the circuit, from the lineal single-plane organization of experience to the pattern of feedback and circuitry and involvement. During the many centuries of specialist technology, man cultivated habits of detachment and indifference to the social consequences of his new specialist technologies. In the age of circuitry, the consequences of any action occur at the same time as the action. Thus we now experience a growing need to build the very consequences of our programs into the original design and to put the consumer into the production process. By awakening to the significance of electronic feedback, we have become intensely aware of the meaning and effect of our actions after centuries of comparative heedlessness and non-involvement....Electricity made possible the extension of the human nervous system as a new social environment."

Which brings us to a fresh and much discussed batch of feedback deserving of your attention.

Tom Webster and Larry Rosen, cool kids in residence at Edison Media Research, have posted some writing with merit. Invest the bandwidth, thank me later. Radio's Looming Crisis Is Not Digital by Tom, here. Radio's Stimulus Package by Larry, here. Coming to a browser near you soon - the Tom Webster Conclave webinar, details available here. [FD: I serve on the Conclave board]

Recommended radio read: Turn It Up! American Radio Tales 1946 - 1996 by Bob Shannon. Fifty-eight chapters of fun. From Lee Abrams to Wolfman Jack with a cast of stars including Chuck Blore, Jerry Boulding, Dick Clark, Rick Dees, Tom Donahue, Bill Drake, Paul Drew, Bill Figenshu, Bob Henabery, Tom Joyner, Casey Kasem, Larry Lujack, Gordon McLendon, Bobby Rich, John Rook, Ed Salamon, Scott Shannon, Fred Winston and over thirty others. Check out Fred Winston's free podcast about the amazing Dick Biondi, get more info and order your copy of the book, here. [FD: I serve as an unpaid adviser to the author]