Journalism in an Open Era (follow up link)

Been getting a number of great comments and emails from people on the post on Journalism in an Open Era.

Another blogger I meant to link to he’s ideas on the future of organizations I find smart, edgy and thoughtful is Umair Haque, the Director of the Havas Media Lab who blogs for the Harvard Business Review.

In a piece entitled How to Build a Next-Generation Business Now, Haque’s concludes that the problem that dragged down wall street is in part, the same one that is killing (or transforming to be nicer) journalism. My journalism in an open era piece is set, in part, on the belief that the gut wrenching changes we are experiencing economically are part of a transition to a new rule-set, one that will favour, and possibility require, more “open” institutions and business models. This will require – in part – a new journalism but also real leadership in the private, public and non-profit sector (the type Henry Mintzberg raged about in his excellent oped in the Globe and Mail).

Here’s Haque (bold and italic text is mine) on the subject:

The first step in building next-generation businesses is to recognize the real problem boardrooms face – that we’ve moved beyond strategy decay. Building next-gen businesses depends on recognizing that they are not about new business models or even new strategies.

The stunningly total meltdown we just witnessed in the investment banking sector – the end of Wall St as we know it – was something far darker and more remarkable. It wasn’t simple business model obsolescence – an old business model being superseded by a more efficient or productive one. The problem the investment banks had wasn’t at the level of business models – it had little to do with revenue streams, customer segmentation, or value propositions.

And neither was it what Gary Hamel has termed “strategy decay” – imitation and commoditization eroding the returns to a once-defensible strategic position, scarce resource, or painstakingly built core competence.

It was something bigger and more vital: institutional decay. Investment banks failed not just as businesses, but as financial institutions that were supposedly built to last. It was ultimately how they were organized and managed as economic institutions – poor incentives, near-total opacity, zero responsibility, absolute myopia – that was the problem. The rot was in their DNA, in their institutional makeup, not in their strategies or business models.

The point is this: the central challenge 21st century boardrooms must face is not reinventing strategies, or business models, but reinventing businesses as institutions.

Old stuff is breaking fast. The rot is in the DNA – we may, in may circumstances, need a new institutional make up. And the new rule sets need to be understood quickly. Are we coming into an Open Era? I don’t know, but I think open and/or transparent organizations are going to have a leg up.

3 thoughts on “Journalism in an Open Era (follow up link)

  1. Jeremy Vernon

    Tim O'Reilly, a man with very strong vested interests in traditional publishing mechanisms, has some compelling thoughts on this issue that reiterate much of your previous article:…I think another analogy Shirky made in his TED talk (I believe) was that modern communications tools are replacing planning with coordination (his example is the cell phone replaces our need to pre-arrange dinner/movie plans). Virtually all institutions are under threat by the mobile, distributed alternatives. Journalism is merely one of many such systems. This is the meta-narrative, in some ways of the Networked Society (articulated quite comprehensively by Manuel Castells.

  2. franv

    I found both your posts on journalism very interesting and think they bring interesting insights on how more and more of us are realizing that the traditional business model has to give way to something different.Obama's promise to make the government more transparent and his ensuing election seem to reflect that new awareness.

  3. bigpicturerick

    When the automobile replaced the horse and buggie they felt displaced as well. Change is the only thing that's constant. Newspapers have been failing to provide the kind of value that a business with a budget needs to adhere to. They did this with an arrogance of thinking they were the only game in town. New media has made the acquisition and high touch maintenance of new customers ( the life blood of any thriving business ) less expesive and thus more beneficial to the bottom line for the businesses smart enough to utilize it. All of the out of work journalists will need to find another way to serve the people in a way that justifys the money they earn from it. if they don't they'll simply be displaced by the device that does serve well.

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