Finally read this suggested bestseller: “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap .. and Others Don’t” by Jim Collins.
Definitely would appeal more to aspiring MBAs and top executives than journalists, but I did find some helpful points for leaders aspiring for greatness.
My favorite concepts from the book? I’ve boiled down to two of the most memorable questions I’ll keep asking:
1. How do we attract/hire/retain the “right” people in the newsroom?
— The good-to-great leaders began the transformation by first getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and *then* figured out where to drive it.
— Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems.
— The purpose of compensation is not to “motivate” the right behaviors from the wrong people, but to get and keep the right people in the first place. (p. 63-64)
So this leads me to more questions: How do the “right” people behave? What appeals to those folks? I would argue for highly creative, self-motivated people with a deep sense of purpose and curiosity. Critical thinkers. Problem solvers. Enthusiastic about our readers, our community and how journalism serves the community.
A personal story: I wanted to work at The Roanoke Times in 2000 not just because it was the daily newspaper in my hometown — but because it offered tuition reimbursement. My goal was to earn my master’s degree while working full time (and while paying off my undergrad debt). The purpose of earning the master’s degree was primarily so I could adjunct later in my career, whatever that would evolve into.
So add lifelong learner to the list?
What company benefits or cultural attributes would attract creative, lifelong learners to our newsroom?
2. As a news org, what is our purpose? Our core values?
I’m intrigued by the author’s Three Circles/Hedgehog Concept, which helps simplify your mission and values — and get the most meaning from your business and/or personal life.
And it’s not just because I’m a sucker for silly analogies.
“The good-to-great companies are more like hedgehogs — simple, dowdy creatures that know ‘one big thing’ and stick to it. The comparison companies are more like foxes — crafty, cunning creatures that know many things yet lack consistency.” (p. 119)
Three intersecting circles translates into this simple, hedgehog concept:
1. What you are deeply passionate about
2. What you can be the best in the world at
3. What drives your economic engine
How would the leadership of The Roanoke Times / roanoke.com answer those questions? What would our circles look like?
And in your own career, how would you answer?
Later on in the book, Collins talks more about purpose and core ideology:
“Enduring great companies preserve their core values and purpose while their business strategies and operating practices endlessly adapt to a changing world. This is the magical combination of ‘preserve the core and stimulate progress.’ ” (p. 195).
All this talk about finding that enduring core purpose and identity reminded me of one of my favorite parts of “Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload” by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel. (SEE NEXT POST).