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Big Media Must Kill Bureaucracy to Innovate

In response to a NYTimes article about which media company has the internet "figured out", Michael Parekh wonders which media companies will be the first to figure out how to innovate internally rather than by acquisition.

There are two major things that old media will have to do to innovate.

First, incentivize R&D.; Simply put: if there's no incentive to innovate, most of your employees won't. And if you don't invest in R&D;, your internet business will suffer.

Incentivize by giving money, control, flexibility: there's no one-size-fits-all. You'll have to work hard to incentivize the right people in the right ways. But it will be worth it.

More importantly, though, big media companies have to kill the bureaucratic mindset. In many technology companies, decision-making authority and access to information are pushed to the edges, where it belongs. People are thus able to make smarter and quicker decisions.

The thing is, talent flows to where bureaucracy isn't.

And media companies are now competing with technology companies for talent.

The free Dr. Pepper, on-site gym, and massages are nice. But they are often superficial fixes to a systemic problem.

You've already got the interesting problems to solve.

So get rid of the bureaucracy, and watch the talent floodgates open.

And with that talent will come passion and profits.

The first big media company to figure that out will have a step on their dinosaur contemporaries, and will be in a good enough place to make sure Google or Yahoo doesn't eat their lunch.

The question is: who will be so brave?

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Comments (Post | Latest)

1. Frank Ruscica said on Jun 25 2006:


Understanding where media companies should innovate starts with understanding how a TV sitcom and complementary online content can give rise to the most liquid online market for the advertisement spaces on single-creator media (e.g., blogs, podcasts), how this market can give rise to the most liquid online market for customized education and career services, how the latter market can give rise to millions of good jobs for U.S. residents, and how these job-holders can dramatically increase educational and economic opportunity for all.

See my site for the VZ-/AMZN-/MSFT-approved details.

And feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, etc.


2. Ted Rheingold said on Jun 26 2006:

"talent flows to where bureaucracy isn't"

well said.

3. kareem said on Jun 26 2006:

Frank, thanks for the link.

Ted, thanks. It's a pet peeve of mine when companies don't realize why they have high turnover of smart ppl, or don't innovate, or can't attract smart ppl in the first place.

4. Alexander Kjerulf said on Jul 2 2006:

Good point Kareem.

Celebrated Danish business executive Lars Kolind recently wrote a book about fighting bureaucracy. One of his points: Bureaucracy stifles innovation.

More here:

5. kareem said on Jul 3 2006:

Winning the War on Bureaucracy--I love it. Thanks, Alexander!


Hi, I'm Kareem Mayan. I co-founded eduFire, an online video tutoring company.

I've done time at ESPN and FIM.

I advise WorldBlu, helping them build democratic companies.

I moderated a council for Creative Good.

And, I helped bring Barcamp, a technology un-conference, to LA, which is where I live. I am now living and working in cool cities around the world.

More about me.

Opinions stated here are mine alone.

Contact: blog -at- reemer


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