Last week BuzzFeed obtained and published a fascinating internal report created by a team at The New York Times. I strongly recommend you read the full BuzzFeed story here or get several key findings here. As you read, I think you?ll find there are a few things we can learn from all this, and here are my top three:?
Despite the paper?s reputation and resources, the Times is struggling to adapt to the digital age. As the report explains, the paper still produces great journalism. The problem is that the organization has not yet figured out how to effectively and consistently package or promote its content in such a way as to keep pace with other more nimble and digital-savvy outfits. What does that mean? The report found that the Huffington Post regularly outperforms the New York Times in terms of web traffic ?simply by aggregating and repacking Times journalism.? Amazing, right??
I bring it up because I think it?s important for us all to see that even a heady company with deep pockets can struggle with its digital strategy. With that in mind, let your church off the hook if you?re struggling too. You?re not alone. That doesn?t mean you get to settle for mediocrity, but it does mean you?re in good company as you work to figure it out.?
Silos happen everywhere. At the Times, there are a few departments that should be collaborating more: newsroom (the content), business (revenue), and marketing (promotion). As the report mentions again and again, the failure of these departments to communicate and collaborate resulted in several missed opportunities. Missed opportunities are one price we pay for our silos, whether they?re happening at a newspaper or a church. The Times is going to work hard to break down those walls, and we should too. What kinds of new opportunities will arise when Worship, Comm, Preaching, Discipleship, Children, and Students all get on the same page? We won?t know until we try it.?
Equip and empower a team to ask hard questions, look for blind spots, survey the landscape, and make recommendations. This, to me, is the linchpin. Why? Because the truth hurts. When we know we?re struggling, we can be tempted to bury our head in the sand. We can focus on maintaining the status quo and keeping ourselves busy. To that end, what the Times did in commissioning this report should be an inspiration to us all. My church and your church have weak spots ??areas that need observation, analysis, and strategy. And here?s the thing: that never happens on accident. The Times acted with intention, and they got back 96 pages of tough love.?
The question that remains ??for the Times and for us ??is what are we going to do next?