Successful transformation shifts require nimble change, solid company culture

By Luis García

Los Andes/Grupo Clarín

Mendoza, Argentina

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Traditional media companies face the great challenge of adapting to the digital era while still delivering a daily (newspaper) product and developing new products for different platforms at the same time.

The newspaper industry used to launch a new edition of its print product every day. Nowadays the habit of how people get news changes every day.

Audiences are looking for news content across several platforms, and media companies need to deliver.
Audiences are looking for news content across several platforms, and media companies need to deliver.

Today you can give your opinion through platforms or even inform others (there is no brand checking data). You can receive information when getting in contact with friends or even show what you do every moment of your life. You can also watch or read information through multi-media platforms.

Just a few years ago, you could only check news through newspapers or radio or television programmes. Today you can get this information not only through the original platforms but also those adapted to the digital era.

There are also changes in habits according to age. Our children commonly study using the Internet even though they still continue reading books. They probably get news through a Web search engine regardless of the wide range of media options. Middle-aged people access not only the Web but also engage with traditional media such as newspapers, radio, and television. People over 60 years of age are more connected with traditional media offers, regardless of the fact mobile devices catch our attention and we spend more time on them every day.

Transformation agenda

For media companies to be “history witnesses,” we need to be digital. We also need to be on multiple platforms. Additionally, we must be on top of product delivery trends.

That is because, in the end, we are committed to generating new revenue models according to habit changes. If we do not innovate, sustainability becomes harder and uncertain. Here, then, the organisational transformation agenda is especially important.

Successful newspaper transformation

It’s important to define transformation. A transformation process is an organisational programme. It is intense.

Importantly, it should be measured very closely. It should be evaluated occasionally and be redefined if context changes. The transformation process needs to move fast. Companies need to be able to renew their objectives quickly when numbers or audiences change. Finally, they need to be open to changing organisational aspirations at any moment.

Transformational reminders

Be careful about aspirations. Sometimes, we start thinking about big aspirations. This may be the best vision. However, the major challenge is achieving transformational objectives while delivering your traditional products as a healthy and profitable organisation.

When we get close to reaching our goals, it is better and easier to evolve performance aspirations, making them loftier as the transformation takes place. As transformation spreads across the company, you may be able to achieve goals faster.

Watch every step closely and act quickly. You should make changes to plans as soon as you detect something is wrong with the original expectations. Successful transformations should generate achievable goals easily to motivate the whole company. Every transformation is different, however.

It is convenient to plan detailed schedules so you can conveniently follow up. If an organisation can get “quick wins” during the first year, transformation becomes a virtuous cycle. If any revision shows delay points, sometimes it is better to cancel the programme and begin another programme with a different approach.

A good exercise is to take into consideration every transformational step, such as new start-ups or any kind of downsizing, acquisition, or merge.

We strongly believe transformation processes that start wrong are less likely to reach stated goals. Stop these processes as soon as possible and start all over again.

Be broad, observe the entire organisational ecosystem at a glance, and work across the entire organisation. The scope of a company’s effort is important. Even though quick results start from small projects, successful companies must demand a wide and ongoing transformation rather than reducing the transformation process to individual business units or functions. A more comprehensive ecosystem scope increases the chances of creating value-generating opportunities across complete organisational functions.

Transformation initiatives should involve the entire organisation, including not only growth initiatives but also cost-cutting initiatives. If companies can produce mass mobilisation across an organisation, they may be able to pursue several granular efforts under the umbrella of well-defined workstreams. Doing this, companies can collectively generate big results.

Smaller initiatives are typically easier to achieve and also more empowering because they tend to be led by frontline employees. However, cross-functional and operational transformations — those emphasising interactions among product development, the newsroom, marketing, the sales force, manufacturing, supply chains, and services — can outperform their single functions.

Going through the entire end-to-end process — from understanding customer needs to delivery of the finished product — is the prize of a successful transformation. The goal is to grow a business by delighting and cultivating customers, providing them with a mix of products best suited to their needs.

Consider applying new management practices because they guarantee the execution of new standard operating procedures. Another option is to transition the company culture to become an organization that is continuously improving and constantly looking for ways to create better customer experiences with higher quality, profitability, and standards.

Embrace organisational transformation as a challenge across the entire company. Every employee should be involved in transforming the company. Everyone should be involved with leadership, accountability, innovation, learning, and problem solving. Companies with a strong culture consistently outperform their goals.

We observe a similar relationship when it comes to start-ups. Comparing the returns generated by successful companies going through the transformation process that fully implemented a strong culture compared to those that did not, the results were at a higher level.

Committing the entire company to organisational transformation can make a difference. Outperforming companies set clear and measurable cultural organisational targets in conjunction with their financial objectives, prioritising elements that rely on measurable results. Highly qualified employees empower and support a committed team that helps deficiencies when they arise.

Other helpful transformational tips

Think about transforming the whole business, not just parts of the business. We often hear that transformations are difficult, and this is true. Companies face unique challenges during the transformation process, and there are variables that no company can control.

Yet, every measured indicator suggests leaders have significant influence over the success (or failure) of their company’s transformations.

Organisations that go broad, move fast, often renew their goals, and keep evolving their aspirations can significantly outperform in the media industry. Culture is extremely important in making your company stronger, reliable, and sustainable. That is one of the reasons some media companies have lasted for more than 100 years.

Being sustainable while defining your company’s future can bring about uncertainty and a sense of reluctance. However, strong management and hard-working employees will guide the company to its new profit business model. Building culture, hiring and motivating the right people, focusing on goal measurement, and keeping audiences top of mind will guide companies in adapting regardless of the challenges they face.

About Luis García