In any business, operating performance is a function of organizational culture. QED.
We’ve all got stories about crazed managers and leaders who don’t know how to lead. But do you want to see management folly at its best? You want to find the archetype for established companies stuck in the present? You want to understand how nothing fails like success? You want to reflect on the direct link between business culture and operating performance? Come with me. Let’s talk about newspapers.
No, this is not another heavy opinionation about the death of print. The death-of-print story is not only tedious, it’s misleading too. Newspapers face an even more ignominious fate than the death of their print business, for now it’s clear they have no digital future either. Every single attempt by local newspapers to build new products and replacement revenues on the Internet has been futile. Most other traditional media companies failed to capitalize on the Internet and for many of the same reasons, but for newspapers, until recently the largest advertising medium in the country, the miss was abruptly fatal. It has put them on a quickening path to total extinction.
Trapped in a classic vise between today’s results and tomorrow’s plan, newspapers long ago made their Faustian choice. They had more than 25 years of second chances, but never took them. Their shareholders, public and private, had well-paid retainers in blocking position and settled in to enjoy the rare opportunity of mining annuity revenue streams that seemingly required no investment or replenishment. Business failure in established companies can always be traced back to a malfunctioning culture tolerated or even endorsed for way too long by uninspired executive management.
And that’s exactly what this blog is about. Malfunctioning business culture. Confronting and fixing that is what I get paid to do.
Come with me. You’ll see.
Peter, I read the Mail Online every day (UK edition) for up-to-date news about Britain. I also read the Telegraph and the Times Online. Both pretty good online clones of their print edition. On the Mail Oline, yes, you meet teachers who have affairs with students. Visitors who crash their Lamborghinis in Mayfair. The most appalling facial injuries ever seen in the history of the world. Coverage of the Royals, par excellence. But in between you also get a pretty good litmus on contemporary British life. I never bought the newspaper in my life. But I don’t miss a day online. How do they do it and thousands of other papers don’t, or can’t? I would hazard a guess that the editorial approach is the same as the paper; and it works very well online. By the way, I have no idea if the website makes money. But it must have a gazillion readers.