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Report: Discovery 101

August 7, 2007 | Author: mattmansfield | Filed under: Home

From April Lynch and Matt Mansfield

Thanks to everyone who came to today’s meeting. The level of enthusiasm for change and the willingness to try a new approach were among the most-heartening things we have seen at the Mercury News in some time.

The headline: Almost 100 of you from departments across the newspaper signed up to be on field teams that will go out to do observational research on our audience. That’s tremendous.

The next step for us is to begin assembling three-person teams, then schedule trainings so we can get you all prepared. We’re hoping to have drawn up the teams by tomorrow and can then begin seeing how we cope with various work schedules.

All of the managers assisting us with this project have assured us that participation will count toward productivity goals, and we’ll do our best to help run interference for you if issues arise. Being prudent about your own schedule, of course, is always a good idea.

We’ll also do our best in the training to help allay some of the fears expressed about how we represent ourselves as we do this research. We’ll cover the aspects of that when we drill down in the training since today’s forum did not allow for that. And we have already heard rumblings that’s a concern. Let’s tackle it in the training.

Meantime, many thanks again for the excellent questions and amazing response to this important first step. We were really stunned to see the room at overflow capacity and we’re confident about what that means for our future.

Next up: Field team training, in a rolling format, so we can begin right away.

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11 people have left comments

Also, check out the piece that business magazine Portfolio published online today on the Merc’s Rethink project:
http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/daily-brief/2007/08/07/rethinking-the-mercury-news

aprilsusie wrote on August 7, 2007 - 11:09 pm | Visit Link

How many times, over the years, have I heard the siren call, “give the readers what they want?” That ain’t new. But it would appear that the Merc is assembling a committee of—what?—10,000 or so souls that will go about seeking an answer to that million-dollar question. And then what? Alas, the work product of a committee, regardless of size, tends to be something less than stimulating. It’s tough to run anything by committee (remember the politburo?), especially a newspaper. I wish you luck.

Bob Cochnar wrote on August 8, 2007 - 6:44 pm | Visit Link

Committees serve a purpose.

The Merc is looking for ideas. The more people participate, the more ideas will be generated.

Committees are important for other reasons too.

The speed of change at most businesses is relatively slow for varied reasons. But, a large part of employees slow response is a lack of understanding behind the ideas, and possibly, moreover, a disagreement over the ideas or implementation.

Getting ideas will likely be the Merc’s easiest endeavor. Execution is often more difficult and mistakes are costly – not only in terms of monetary value, but also to morale and the company’s future.

If done right, smaller groups will conduct SWOT analysis to determine the attractiveness of each idea. Ideas will be prioritized. Six Sigma black belts and CMS techies will be brought in to help determine integration, implementation and operations.

The costs of consultants is less than the cost of a failed great idea.

Good luck to the people of the Merc.

Yuri Victor wrote on August 8, 2007 - 9:04 pm | Visit Link

Hi Matt

I wish you and the other folks involved in this effort every success. It is discouraging that people commenting here and at the Portfolio site have already declared your work a worthless failure—only 24 hours after you kick off the effort.

As for me, my wife and others I have talked to reducing the amount of sports of 1A would be a great reinventing step.

Lou Alexander

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