Thursday, October 25, 2007

Innovation Often Comes About by Using a Combination of Innovative Ideas

Let me first say that I am not an employee nor a stakeholder in the following organization. I am a subscriber. The article referenced below was, I thought, one of the more articulate descriptions of an approach to a 'makeover' which I have read and that is the reason for bringing it to your attention.

The Globe and Mail, Canada's leading national newspaper, made use of work groups and innovative practices to complete a successful makeover the newspaper.

The article, published April 21, 2007, written by Globe Editor-in-Chief, Edward Greenspon, describes The Globe and Mail’s innovative approach to the makeover of their paper. While newspapers, in general, were having a hard time and worldwide circulation was trending down, the Globe and Mail was, on the other hand, on a roll. The internet was viewed as being a significant threat. The Globe’s attitude toward the Web was interesting; it was not viewed as competition but rather as a new means of telling stories to its readers.

The Globe and Mail did the following (slightly abridged from the original article by Edward Greenspon).

- in spite of being a leader in their business segment (The Wall Street Journal noted their success as a paper) the significant stakeholders took the initiative to launch a ‘reimagination’ process with a significant allocation of resources in terms of funding and peoples time. Risk that some or nothing might actually happen was present at the early stages.
- commissioned a large piece of market research and brought in experts to talk to everyone in the company
- asked for volunteers from its staff to participate in the process and one-third of the staff stepped forward
- organized the staff volunteers into teams and assigned a specific area of opportunity
- provided an overall vision (guidelines) for the ‘reimagining’ process that were clear; to be smarter, more accessible, more Web-page integrated, and more visually oriented.
- restated the culture that had historically won readership; strong reporting, great writing, seriousness of purpose.
- team members used a ‘reimagination’ room as a place to gather and work on the areas of interest in between their regular jobs.
- one special group called the ‘design group’ was asked to look at how people could work better in generating and presenting content. An important conclusion was that the process of people working together starts with the physical layout of the office. Communication amongst disciplines was to be encouraged. Openness and teamwork were to be encouraged.
- the group was initially isolated from the rest of the staff and kept so during the ‘incubation’ period and, significantly, later moved into the centre of the room with editors spread throughout.
- testing the concept as it developed – a ‘beta’ test – was part of the ‘reimagination’ process.
- embracing the new technology (the Web) was a fundamental challenge in the redesign and was a part of the vision enunciated at the beginning of the ‘reimagination’ process.
- management (and shareholders) took a long view as the process started in the spring of 2005 and the newly thought-out paper was issued on April 22, 2007; a period of two years between initialization and realization.

The Globe and Mail made use of a number of innovative ideas and linked these together to achieve a major breakthrough.

Labels: ,