Knowing that a destination is good for you is not enough. I know that I am getting fatter by the week and that I have to lose and keep off at least 40 pounds. It's not just aesthetics but my health. My Dad died at my age of apnea and being overweight is a key factor and I have it. But knowing that I have a high chance of an early death if I don't change my life, is not helping me.
So it is with many thoughtful stations in Public Radio and TV. They also know that if they don't become more engaging with their community, that it is likely that they will follow the newspaper industry and the music industry into a slow death spiral.
My problem and the stations that I work with problem is I think the same. What do we have to do - do today - do tomorrow - do more of so that it becomes our new way of life - that will enable us to break the habits of a lifetime - and be different?
I had a bit of an aha as I dozed this morning and here it is.
This is Jim Collins' classic picture of breakout as applied to Wal-Mart. This is how I interpret it.
Reaching the inflection, or Tipping Point, in 1970 was not just a matter of having 38 stores but of finally finding out how to fill an entire state - he had to not only solve any issues with the stores but also the supporting logistics and people. Once he had discovered how to design and run a viable "System" he could expand. Had he expanded fast before this, he would have driven the business into the ground.
Here is the same trajectory for Starbucks which now has many more thousands of stores. At first all the few stores were in Seattle. The first break came when they opened the first out of town store in Chicago. They had to discover how to set up and manage remotely. As they built the system, they had to find what they called the "Perfect Store". Schultz set up a program to again define the best system. Once they had found this, they could expand exponentially.
So what might this mean to a Public TV or Radio station? What are the key inflection points along this curve? (What does it mean for my weight loss as well?)
With my clients we are using Ken Burns' new documentary, the War, to learn some things at the first inflection point - which may be akin to running a new store well. The next inflection point will have to be knowing how to run a full system but on a small scale.
In the next few weeks we have to work out what doing Inflection point 1 well is. At the moment we are learning how to use a number of social media tools and meetings to see how best to support the growth of a community and of a web audience.
I suspect that one of the measures will be our web audience - who is in it, how many are there etc. For surely isn't the web where most of the action will be? We are certainly seeing that for video and we know that few young listen to radio any more.
I am getting a simple feeling - that our destination will be to become a web based business that has an on air component.
Just as Starbucks left Seattle and Wal-Mart left Bentonville, we have to leave broadcast and live on the web as our primary place. Not as a support but as the centre of all that we do and are.
That we have an "audience" that gives as much as it gets - it is highly participative - it is both intensely local and global - that it is much much younger than it is now - that it sees itself as part of the station.
What do you think? What do you also think that we should put as the interim targets and as the end goal?