A cadre of change agents for newspapers
The association has created the Executive Program for Innovative Change to provide senior publishing folks with the in-depth strategic perspectives and concrete entrepreneurial skills necessary to efficiently and effectively lead innovation in their organizations.
In other words, Inland is launching a boot camp for the change agents necessary to ensure the continued vitality of the industry. And I am pleased to report that I am leveraging my Silicon Valley background to partner with Inland as the director of the project.
You can hear more about the program in the video embedded below, but here’s a quick summary:
The association will admit up to 18 senior executives to the new program, who then meet as a group at regular intervals over 12 months to learn how to build the audience, revenue, productivity and profitability of their companies through transformational change.
Because the program is designed to deliver real-world results, every participant will be required to identify – and execute – a significant game-changing project at her or his newspaper that’s aimed at delivering a measurable return on investment. The projects, which will be selected by participants in consultation with the management of their papers, may address either legacy print products or digital initiatives.
Kicking off on Sept. 11 in Chicago, the program will consist of five onsite sessions throughout the year. The session next June will be held in Silicon Valley, where I will introduce participants to some of my friends at Google, Facebook and some of the up-and-coming companies most likely to affect the way we get and give information in the future.
As interesting as the group get-togethers are bound to be, the most crucial work will take place in the weeks between sessions, as participants pursue their game-charging projects at their home papers. Because changing the game in a legacy organization can be lonely and challenging, the members of the group will support each other through ongoing collaboration and problem-solving via webinars and one-on-one calls. I’ll always be available to lend a hand, too.
Our work will be informed and supplemented by readings and guest speakers contributing everything from marketplace intelligence to management techniques. Speakers will include not only effective newspaper executives but also academic experts and leaders from other industries.
Some of those who already have kindly committed to participate are Richard Gingras, the head of Google News; Tom Rosenstiel of the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism; Martin Till, the publisher of the Easton (PA) Express; Jay Small, the digital chief for the Evening Post and Courier Co.; Jim Brady, the editor in chief at Digital First, and Owen Youngman, one of the digital gurus on the faculty of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Additional guest speakers will be added throughout the year, so we can keep the program as fresh as possible.
The program is not just for Inland members. It is open to all senior newspaper executives and publishers are welcome to nominate individuals who are being considered for eventual appointment to senior positions. Applicants are asked to describe the project they want to pursue, along with a current resume and a letter of nomination from an officer of his or her newspaper.
The program has generated a lot of excitement since it was announced earlier this month to Inland;s membership and many applications already have been received. But there’s still time to go here to learn more and to apply.
In addition to the intrinsic value of the project delivered to each newspaper, the participants will gain the skills, confidence and motivation to cultivate cultures of continuous improvement at their respective organizations.
As the program is repeated over the years, it will build a growing network of knowledgeable and confident entrepreneurs within our industry. And that’s what newspapers will need to assure their strength and relevance for future generations.