VP Of Insight
May 29, 2012
Media companies today are dealing with lots of issues.
Newspaper and magazine circulation is falling off a cliff and not many under the age of 40 would even consider subscribing to either.
TV viewing is fine, though fractured, but it's how we're viewing that's the issue: DVRs.
Who in their right mind watches "American Idol" like a captive test subject, sitting through 28 minutes of ads every hour? (Even without ads, it's like sticking hot pokers in every orifice simultaneously.)
Radio listening is fine, except that radio owners have become so spoiled by generations of 40-50% annual returns they won't accept lower numbers, like 10%, which would earn bonuses in any other industry.
And Radio rates ... and revenue ... are lower. Everywhere.
So Radio owners have cut expense to the bone. Heck, they've amputated several limbs at most stations, so the very things that allowed Radio to be so profitable are no longer in place in most cities.
Well, here's what you guys running big media companies, and/or individual TV and radio stations need: A Vice President of Insight.
You see, "Solving a problem with insight is fundamentally different than solving a problem analytically. There really are different brain mechanisms involved."
That's Dr. John Kounios at Drexel University speaking. And Dr. John advocates more time to "daydream." To put an idea into our minds and then go do nothing, except perhaps, play or wander or nap.
About now you're probably thinking, isn't that what CEOs do?
Possibly, but -- how do I put this delicately -- evidently they're not great thinkers. Or maybe they're just so busy justifying those huge compensation packages and planning future bankruptcy filings that they're stretched too thin.
No, what your station and your company needs is a genuine free thinker, someone completely unimpressed with how you've done things for generations, someone who could care less if s/he steps on corporate toes while tromping through the hallways lost in creative thought.
Someone you would see wandering around the zoo during work hours, or flying a kite in your parking lot, or sitting in an office telling jokes and laughing -- loudly -- with several of your employees.
Yep, this person would be so disruptive, s/he would almost certainly be a bad influence on all those people in their cubicles, because s/he would want to have FUN, to do something unexpected and joyful.
So, your company needs a position where the only responsibility is to think and dream of what might be, and then produce a brief list of the better ideas every week or two.
You're looking for someone who can provide the occasional burst of insight.
And insight doesn't happen the same way analytical thinking happens. It doesn't often appear as you sit behind a desk concentrating deeply on trying to figure out a solution to the money crisis du jour.
Don't believe me? Maybe you'll trust that newspaper you used to read -- the Wall Street Journal.
Now, you've got to be sure you put someone in charge of the list whose sole goal in life is not saying NO to every new concept, who doesn't spend the first 30 minutes after receiving the list thinking of every reason why each idea sucks and why this new VP of Insight may be a threat to his or her rank in the company.
This person's job would be to make certain the best of the new insights get a chance to work.
This job title would probably be VP of Implementation.
Yeah, that sounds good.
This person probably doesn't exist in your organization right now either.
Almost everyone I meet inside most companies is terrified they're about to be fired, and sees even a casual visitor like moi -- and those of you who know me know how casual and unthreatening I am -- eyeing their desk and chair with lust and nefarious plotting.
And, in fact, the guys farther up the ladder of success -- do they still let you even stand on that thing anymore? -- have spent their careers learning how to say NO! with great authority, since their only real role is to keep expenses below their level as low as possible so their own salaries and benefits aren't threatened.
and you do have a big "BUT" there, Doug...
IF, and I also have a really large "IF" there, don't I?
If you're the adventurous sort, the sort who wants to do something different for a change, to try something new for a while, to attempt to actually grow, rather than merely slow down the decline, the sort for whom risk makes life more fun, the sort who is no longer content to be a caretaker, the sort who can handle a good deal of ambiguity and uncertainty and conflict...
I humbly volunteer myself for the position of VP of Insight, a task for which I have trained all my professional life, if you call this a professional life.
Or, if you've met me and don't want me anywhere near your employees, I can also give you several other capable candidates for the VP of Implementation, each of whom has pages filled with success stories achieved at remarkable and fun radio stations.
Oh, come on, how bad could it be? You've wasted more money letting your executive jet idle on the runway than what I'm talking about here.
You'd be investing a couple of hundred thousand dollars hoping to get one or two breakthrough insights that could forever change the way your company does business. That wouldn't even impact your bonus.
The very least that will happen is a thorough shaking of your corporate bureaucracy, a cold slap in the face to every corporate officer, screaming you're not only willing to entertain good ideas, you're investing money to try to find some, since they haven't provided any for a couple of decades now.
What do you say?
Got room in your group for a Vice President of Insight and a Vice President of Implementation?
Tell you what, I'll do it for half of what you're paying your VP of Programming right now, and if after three months, you think I haven't come up with one breakthrough idea, we'll part company, and I'll let you guest-blog here telling the world how worthless I am. How's that?
But -- and there's my big BUT again -- if, as I believe, you have more breakthrough ideas than you know how to fund, you pay me twice what your VP of Programming is making, and you still get to guest-blog here, this time telling the world how expensive I am.
What do you say?
Is your company more like Apple or Microsoft?
Ready to try something really scary that could change you in ways you can't anticipate?
I hope so. God knows we need a leader somewhere in our industry...