Sunday, November 26, 2006

Digital executives in older organizations

This New York Times piece, Seeking Executive to Tame the Digital Future, on big media‘s attempts to reinvent themselves by bringing in CEOs who get this whole digital thing is being discussed a lot. I don‘t have much to add. The best part of the article is the fictional job description at the beginning:

WANTED Digital media genius to guide a nimble — or at least we like to think we are — media giant through transformation from analog to digital in all its gory glory.

JOB DESCRIPTION To take all the stuff we produce for other formats, like TV or print or film, and figure out how to shovel it onto the Internet in a way that makes money.

QUALIFICATIONS The ideal candidate might also have ideas for ways to make a few dollars online that don’t directly stem from our so-called traditional media businesses. (You know — like that whole user-generated thing that the kids are doing. P.S., loved the video clips about how Mentos and Diet Coke mixed together create a chemical reaction — maybe we can turn it into a prime-time special or a theme park ride financed by these brands?)

COMPENSATION Pretty sweet for as long as you last.

RETIREMENT BENEFITS Well, don’t plan on it.

It might be more funny if it weren‘t so true. IP Democracy had one of the best commentaries:

But it’s obvious to me that one of the biggest challenges in hiring a digital genius is the nature of the corporation itself. Visionaries that make changes — unless they’re at the top of the corporate ladder — are anathema to big companies, which develop their own bureaucracies, their own cultures and their own way of doing things that get knocked out of whack when someone like Levinsohn or Kramer comes in and mixes things up.

Sooner or later the institutional forces — most often in the form of scheming rival executives jealous of the spotlight cast on the innovators — will sabotage even the most talented entrpreneur. It’s cool so long as Levinsohn or Miller or Kramer are actually doing things that will build new businesses for the company. But once those businesses are built, it’s bye-bye visionary.


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