Remaking the Boston Globe

Trying to look at it from an employees’ perspective, there are two central issues surrounding the existential struggle at the Boston Globe.

First, can it be saved? This is important, because if it can’t, there’s no sense in making sacrifices. It amounts to leaving money on the table. Jeff Jarvis makes the point that saving it will require, more than simple budget cutting, a fundamental remaking of the organization.

That brings us to the second point, something I discussed a few weeks ago with Yahoo sociologist Duncan Watts. He was talking about institutions that we humans create which evolve through the generations, outliving and transcending the people who founded them. General Electric, Boy Scouts of America, and Philadelphia’s marching Mummers are three that come to mind.

What is it that gives life to such groupings? That’s what he researches. But it seems to me that at least a good number of people must have a sense of ownership. And they must demonstrate flexibility when it comes to changing and handing control to those who will remake and remodel. That new generation (which I still don’t see in MSM) must handle the transition so that many people, despite the pain and sacrifice, still have a sense of shared mission, and belonging.

This is what Lou Gerstner and his team pulled off at IBM in the early ’90s. Based on what I’m seeing, it’s not happening at the Globe or the Times.

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