…on Leadership

Can you handle the Truth?

The consultants stormed the newspaper.

Made nice with the managers, the front-line workers …. then, they told us the truth.

We were broken.

And, they backed it all up with facts.

It was the early 2000’s. The press was sinking into the ground. Our product looked bad. We could do the work with half the staff and our customer service folks had more capacity than they knew what to do with.

The layoffs ensued. Lives changed.

We improved a great deal in the following months: approaches based on data, investing in people, planning ROI on marketing.

We adopted retail strategies and best practices in distribution from other industries.

From an operational standpoint … we accepted the truth.

We saved the money.

We improved the operation.


And, we grew.

Time studies. Capacity spreadsheets. Operational improvements.

We were tracking things like Drucker and Deming on steroids.

But, leadership didn’t invest in the tools or ideas that would save the franchise with the resources we freed up.

The investments and strategy changes we would need to face the cataclysmic fragmentation of media never appeared.

Too proud. Too self-important. So, unfortunate.

We selectively accepted the truth.

Over time, those blinders would destroy the people and the spirit that lived in those walls.

But the trips to conferences and lunches were so much fun – for a few.

Pensions unfunded. Capital not reinvested. Utter nonsense.

It was like a rag was stuffed into a 5,500,000 gallon drum of kerosene…


And, left slowly to burn away the potential of that entity. Relevance faded. Talent jettisoned.

It took more than a decade to die.

Then, more cutting. The product suffered. The leadership perished.

And, what was at one time a floor that held bustling, vibrant, intelligent content producers … is now – empty.

Lucky if there are two souls there tonight producing the very thin, very narrow, very non-relevant product.

Boy, they saved a lot.

But the cost.

I cannot put a value on what was lost.

Souls are priceless.

So, is Leadership.

I miss that business.

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