You have a traditional organization. Can you change to become a network and so survive the revolution? I think in most cases the answer is no. But with the right leadership - FROM THE TOP - you can do it. This post is about the context of one organization that had had the right leadership and has made this transition.
It is The Nine Network for Public Media in St Louis - Formerly KETC Channel Nine.
TV as we know it is the typical traditional organization. You watch what we think is good when we choose and all you do is watch. Appointment media like that is dying. But The Nine Network of Public Media in St Louis is no longer that kind of station. Yes they still do TV but the choice is massive and you can watch it all on your terms and you can also participate. But this is still nothing.
The Nine Network is much more than a TV station that has taken advantage of the digital realm. It is doing more.
First of all it is becoming the local community convenor to deal with important local issues. It started by helping people tell their own stories such as what they did in the war. The breakthrough project was when Nine took on ther Mortgage Crisis at the outset. It called the meeting of all who could help and created the space to help the community help itself. This was so successful that CPB funded a national program where stations, radio and TV, in the worst hit parts of America became the local facilitator of the community. Now Nine is involved in Education and Healthcare. Many other stations see this role as Connector as their future too. Here is Ideastream in Cleveland - another leader.
Secondly it is putting the public into Public TV. It has a school that teaches the public how to tell stories on video.
Thirdly it is connected to the St Louis Public Radio station. St Louis Public Radio. The two stations are physically linked in adajacent buildings and are building a Commons between them to enhance their role as Connectors of the Community.
Fourthly, 9 hosts the local online newspaper - The Beacon - that is full of journalists who could no longer work for a paper!
These local relationships are not one organization but are a real network. They are separate but together. They share resources. They look after each other.
So what was the context for this change? First of all there was the leadership issue. Jack Galamiche at then KETC was a man who saw what had to be done. Tim Eby, who had been chair of NPR, was the new leader at St Louis Public radio. He had sponosored the project that had all the stations in the NPR system look into the digital future. It is my experience that without the right kind of leadership at the top, traditional organizations have no chance.
The second was having the right kind of context. What would success look like? What could be the goal and so what then was the work to get there.
This was the context that we worked from. I think that any traditional organization can look at these slides and find a goal and so a path for themselves - provided that the leader wanted to do this AND could bring their board along too.
You will see that at the heart of this work is a shift in culture. There is no harder work. You will also see how, if you can agree to make this shift, how you then schedule work to help you make the transition. For we cannot change our culture by an act of will. We can only acquire new habits. We have to work our way into the new.