Wonderful keynote give by Leonard Brody on deep, fundamental technology-driven changes in our world, and what it means to be an entrepreneur in these times. Brody delivered his talk in October 2009 at the Connect ’09, an event for tech start-ups and innovators, organized by the BC Innovation Council. Here’s the video:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Thanks to Alfred Hermida, UBC Professor of Journalism, for highlighting Brody’s talk in his blog post Leonard Brody on thinking like an Entrepreneur.
I really don’t think this can be emphasized enough, and Steve Buttry‘s post Newspapers’ Original Sin: Not failing to charge but failing to innovate makes the point well.
I’m not sure things could have played out any differently given the complex social and cultural circumstances of traditional Newspaper organizations. It’s really just a classic case of an incumbent business failing to adapt to disruptive technology as described by Clay Christiansen in The Innovator’s Dilemma.
To my mind, when faced with disruptive change, both an individual or an organization have to be willing to die. By this, I mean willing to face an existential “loss of world”. However, this can be a very painful and bewildering experience, which is why it is not an easy or painless road to take. Nonetheless, if an individual or organization is truly facing a disruptive, discontinous change in their environment, it is a reality which must inevitably be faced (unless of course, one just quits or drops out of the game, which is always a possibility).
Anyway, there you have it.
A very nice speech by Huffington Post co-founder Ken Lerer delivered at the Columbia Journalism School in in April 2009 titled How We Got Here and How We Get Out. The article is a very nice application of Clayton Christensen’s classic Innovators Dilemma (which, BTW, was originally subtitled When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail).
In a nutshell, Christensen’s book provides explore the havoc that distruptive technologies can bring to established incumbent business models, and how difficult it can be for incumbent companies to adapt to disrputive forces of change. In Lerer’s article, he applies this analysis to the Newspaper industry, and finds strong evidence that this exact scenario has occurred amongst mainstream newspaper and news media companies.
One of Christensen’s key messages in his book is that at times of disruptive change, listenging to your traditioanal customer base can be precisely the wrong strategy for transitioning to emerging business models. Lerer explores this thesis in the context of the Newspaper industry during the 1990’s and early years of 2000.
Another interesting comment from Lerer is “As a starting point, I think that online newspapers need to think of themselves as technology companies, as much as media companies”. This represents a significant change for the newspaper industry – not just regarding leveraging technology in their products and operations, but actually “operating” as technology solution providers, and everything this entails from managing product release cycles, to new product development, and so on.
Anyway, a very nice piece IMO.