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Fairfax Media real-time working project judged worldwide winner of INMA Global Innovation Award


Fairfax Media’s Real-Time Working project — involving a metrics-focused series of technological strategies that enables more efficient and flexible work by individuals and teams — was presented the first-ever Global Innovation Award by INMA at the association’s World Congress in San Francisco. 

The Australia-based Fairfax Media won the INMA worldwide prize over regional winners:

  • Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd., India, for “Transforming Print Media Sales Culture Through Technology.”   
  • Gannett, United States, for “Gannett Innovation Grants Program.” 
  • MittMedia, Sweden, for “FutureWorks: Accelerating Innovation and Building Personal Capacity for Learning and Change.”

(Click here for the April 2, 2014, announcement of regional winners in the Global Innovation Awards.) 

All four regional winners were highlighted at the INMA World Congress in San Francisco, with the global winner unveiled before 300 media executives at an awards dinner on the conference’s concluding evening.

The INMA Global Innovation Awards in 2014 aimed to shine a light on structured innovation programmes at media companies.

In implementing the Real-Time Working project, Fairfax aimed for more agile and responsive business operations and an inspiring and collaborative workplace that embodied the brand.

Driving innovation through every department and business unit of the Sydney-based Fairfax Media, the company implemented a set of physical, behavioural, and technological strategies that enabled more flexible and efficient work by individuals and teams.

It recognised that there was a spectrum of work styles and demands where people would have different activities to complete. This, in turn, requires varying levels of concentration, collaboration, and innovation.

A cross-functional Fairfax project team – which consisted of staff from technology, human resources, property, and staff from each business unit – was brought together to ensure an integrated programme delivery over a 12-month period. 

The Fairfax team focused on three key areas, which became the lenses through which the project was viewed from concept to completion. These were: 

  • Space, which enabled Fairfax to create an innovative and agile work environment, responsive to current challenges and aligned to the creative nature of their staff.
  • Technology, where existing IT and infrastructure barriers were removed, providing staff with the choice of technology and empowering them to embrace a digital culture. 
  • People, the key focus of the Real-Time Working project, which encouraged staff to have a choice and a voice, to challenge the status quo and define the way they work. 

Fairfax Media is a leading multi-platform media company in Australasia. On the cutting edge of business model innovation and cultural transformation, the company includes metropolitan, rural, regional, and community news brands, print newspapers, Web sites, tablet and smartphone apps.

The company also has leading classified and transaction Web sites. Fairfax news brands in Australia include The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review, The Canberra Times, and The Sun-Herald. In New Zealand, leading brands include The Dominion Post, The Press, and The Sunday Star-Times. 

“The Fairfax Real-Time Working project is the kind of comprehensive culture change that is happening in the media industry worldwide as companies re-tool for multi-media consumers and advertisers,” said Earl J. Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of INMA. “The company re-thought its physical workspace in a way that promotes collaboration and makes the workplace a magnet for talent in the competitive Sydney area.”

Criteria for entries received from around the world included: 

  • Ideation and incubation: Structured activities to create an ongoing process of product, audience, and revenue ideation and incubation. 
  • Transform the culture: Structured activities to inject entrepreneurialism, agility, and teamwork into the corporate culture.
  • Attract young talent: Structured activities to help media brands become magnets for young, multi-platform talent.
  • Innovation mindsets: Structured activities to develop innovation mindsets near the core, adjacent to the core, and away from the core.
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