I continually wonder why newspaper companies put their future behind one or two people and call them “innovation directors” who are expected to be the ones to find the golden egg that will make the business profitable again.
When you look at a business like Apple or Microsoft. the real innovators aren’t the high-salaried company face (although they are the ones who supply the vision), the real innovation come from the folks in the field and in the labs who are paid to do one thing…figure out what will keep them successful in the years to come.
Successful businesses have a team of people who do nothing but research trends and develop products that will meet the needs of people … or develop needs the people don’t know they have.
But newspapers? They’ve been too complacent for years, and many are too reliant on watching and copying the success of others to be innovative. And because of this, the industry is suffering like never before.
It’s time for newspapers to starting looking at the future in order to dig itself out of the morass it’s currently in. Instead of coming up with trendy names for old positions and, in essence, rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, newspaper companies should be dedicating a number of people in its organization to do nothing but figure out the future. They should be working overtime to look at what readers needs are … or what readers think they’re needs should be … and developing information products that will satisfy those needs. Then when they’re finished, they should start over again to assure continued success.
Apple dwindled to a slight blip on the tech radar screen until Steve Jobs’ people developed the iPod. If newspaper companies stopped panicking in the present and put more of its resources in a dynamic, consistent R&D function, the future for the industry could be brighter … and sooner!