At a general session during The Cable Show in Boston, Chase Carey, COO of News Corp said:
“The biggest challenge is trying to lead and not hold back the future…you want to try to take advantage of new technology and create new experiences. One of the challenges is to be fast enough.”
And fittingly, buzz at The Cable Show centered around:
• Charging consumers for the amount of videos they watch
• Verizon getting in bed with cable systems to sell wireless
• Set-top-boxes going “bye-bye”
• Comcast splashing out with new technologies, increased speeds and heaps of choices including text messaging
It was made abundantly clear that streaming video services such as Netflix, and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, have forever transformed the way consumers interact with and devour television and its content. People want what they want when they want it. They are demanding that it be delivered on all of their devices, and they want it now. Programmers and operators are working at full capacity to create and deliver products and services that will satiate the appetites of impatient consumers.
Talk show host Conan O’Brien shared an ideal analogy. When The Beatles went on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, over 90 million viewers tuned in. This would never have happened today because people would have already been “YouTubing” the Beatles videos, downloading songs and watching profiles about their sassy new haircuts. The 90 million people would have been fragmented into a multitude of consumers devouring bite-size chunks of the content in a variety of delivery methods.
We are operating in a business climate of high velocity. Executives at the show spoke about technologies, strategies and theories, but there was a big elephant in the room: who is going to create, deliver, modulate and transform the industry? The leaders and employees of every single one of the companies in attendance at The Cable Show. It’s bemusing to hear so many leaders speak about innovation while no one is talking about what it will actually take to stand up, take charge and deliver.
One programming executive stated quite candidly that what keeps her up at night is thinking about how to reorganize her digital division in order to meet the “warp speed” demands of the industry.
The challenge to TV Everywhere may be less about the technology, programming and delivery mechanisms and much more about the physical talent—the “people software” that is now required for TV Everywhere to succeed—and how to shepherd them through the velocity of transformation happening in the business today.
Here’s a quick “cheat sheet” toward creating a culture of “ready, aim, transform!”
1. CREATE A CULTURE OF “READINESS”
Often employees are accustomed and taught to ignore or resist change. It’s the way in which employees are ready to respond to change that creates innovative thinking, maintains or increases performance and keeps risk at an all time low.
• Look “up and out” – what is happening in the industry?
• Do you recognize trends? What are you reading about?
• Share what you have been noticing about our industry.
• Find out what other people are saying and doing.
• What are your customers telling you verbally?
• What are they telling you simply by shifting their habits?
• See how you can advocate acting with urgency rather than waiting for changes.
2. ALLIED APPROACH
Look around and see who the typical champions are for change. Who else can you enroll in the change? Everyone can make a difference.
3. EXAMINE YOUR PEOPLE
• How ready are your people to take on new changes?
• Assess their skills, their aptitude and their attitude.
• Where have they stretched in the past? What can they leverage now?
• Do you have the systems, processes and procedures that will
reinforce the change?
4. CONCLUSION AND VISION
You can call it simple math: When something new is coming around the
bend, something old ends.
• What has ended?
• Who is impacted specifically? How will teams be affected?
• What will people (as well as teams) need to stop, start and continue doing?
• What behaviors will be important to embrace during these times of change?
• How can you foster this?
5. LEVERAGE STRENGTHS
Strengths highlight a unique aspect of yourself that shines when you are wholly engaged and completely immersed in an experience. The result is excellence or something very close to it.
• Examine each person on your team.
• What are their strengths?
• Create a plan to leverage their unique talents and abilities.
6. COMMUNICATION and STRATEGY
Communicate. Communicate. And communicate. Create messages
that shows honesty, clarity, transparency and hope. Make sure your
messages answer the following questions:
• What is the change, and why now?
• When will change be implemented?
• What would happen if you did nothing?
• What is the evidence to support the decision?
• What have clients been told?
• When will more information be available?
During times of change insecurity is rampant. People want to have some level of reassurance that they are doing their job well, asking the right questions and succeeding.
7. EXPERIMENT, ANALYZE and REFINE
As the change begins to unfold, you may be working to implement a new system, or perhaps your division has merged and you now have a new boss with new priorities. This is a time for innovation and idea generation.
But you may feel the exact opposite. You may want to simply do what you can to hold onto your job. As a former boss once said, “Stick to your knitting.” However, the more innovative you can be, the more you can stand out from the crowd and make an impact.
8. 30/60/90 SUCCESS
People want to win. And they want to succeed. It is basic human nature. But change inherently takes time and most people have the attention span of a gnat. If you want people to stick with new ideas, new concepts and proposed changes, they must feel that they are succeeding in real tangible ways, and they must experience achievement fairly quickly. Otherwise, they will simply lose steam. If you are supervising those going through change, make sure you map out definite short-term wins (30/60/90 days) with your direct report so there is an experience of momentum in the new norm.
Make these new concepts “the norm” only after it the new concept or process has been proven to work well. Continue to make the connection between the work effort and the outcome, as well as between the strategy and the ultimate successes.
TV Everywhere can indeed be everywhere if the industry fosters organizations of transformation. As you do so, innovation will escalate, growth will be spurred and people will be valued as one of the greatest organizational assets and competitive advantages that will contribute to the bottom line.
Change will always be around us. When an organization launches a change and comes through on the side of success, you will collectively have the experience of victory.
Your employees will have renewed vigor, because they will know that they were not treated as cattle in a barn, but valued as one of the greatest assets to your organization.
(Esther Weinberg is a leadership expert and a cable veteran with a 20-year track record in the industry. She currently creates strategies for such companies as ESPN, Microsoft, Scripps Networks, NBCUniversal Cable, Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc., Motorola, among others. She is the contributing author to the leadership book “Breaking Through” by Barbara Stanny. Esther is a Board Member of NAMIC-Southern California, a mentor for WICT Southern California and a member of the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association. Sign up for her FREE leadership newsletter at www.mindlightgroup.com.)