Wednesday, April 3, 2019

People are more important than the product

Reflections on several decades of managing news publications

A student in a media management course had to interview a media professional for his final research project. I agreed to be his subject, and in the course of an hour, he got me to talk about my philosophy of management in the digital era.

Reading over the transcript of that interview, I realized how my thinking had changed over the years. The main lesson I learned was to put people first. Growing up in the old newspaper model of the news factory, I developed skill in the processes of production, meeting deadlines, getting the product out the door. That was the priority: produce a sufficent quantity of content at a level of professional quality consistent with the limitations of time, money, and space (the news pages) available.

The paradox

Over time, I discovered an interesting paradox: Putting people first generates more profit. If you think first about developing your people and helping them achieve their personal and professional goals, the profit will follow. When you create an organization where people feel they are growing and learning and participating in a mission bigger than themselves, they become tremendously creative and productive.