In covering the weak 2011 financial results of the New York Times Company recently, financial writer Russell Adams commented “Heading into 2011, many newspaper executives expected ad declines to level off and growth to return. Instead, declines accelerated throughout the year. New York Times Co.’s newspaper ad revenue declined 6.2% in the second half of 2011, twice as fast as it fell in the first six months of the year.” Just for perspective, the stock price of New Your Times has been in a straight line decline since 2002, when it was $50/share; today it is $6.
How in the world can an executive in the newspaper business look at the explosion of smartphones and tablets since 2008 and predict that newspaper ad revenue would grow in 2011?
The business world is full of similar examples of company’s unwilling to face reality and get out ahead of a trend. Why? It is human nature. Once a person gets settled in a rhythm, they have a very difficult time convincing themselves that there is a better way to do things.
How can you avoid this in your organization? It is not that hard. Here are three tips that are guaranteed to bring some fresh thinking:
1.) Three year assignments will help make sure that you are regularly getting some fresh perspectives into the organization. At the top of organizations, it is clear that boards of directors are way too slow to terminate executives that are not tackling the future aggressively.
2.) Organize around key trends and protect the group from the people who run the current business.
3.) Beware of “experienced” individuals. Usually such individuals view any change as a threat to their livelihood. Staffing your new initiatives with “experienced” people dangerous.