Category Archives: media

How do organisations tell stories about themselves?

I’m looking for examples of good storytelling within and about organisations.  Mostly you find the CEO has written an autobiography or someone has written his/her (mostly his) biography.  My hunch is that historians of the present and future will look to blogs and tweets, social media and digital traces for clues and a way of deciphering changes in strategy or direction.  But what of intranets? Or internal oral history projects?  Memories of employees past and present?  History from below? How will they be found?  We can’t just rely on Google.

I’ve been looking at an interview, or more precisely, piece to camera that  Frank Gillard lay down for his own BBC Oral History project.  He is very lucid about his own role as a BBC employee and the terms under which he conducted the interviews.  It was recorded in 1995 and feels like another age.  The BBC is making excerpts available under its 100 Voices page

I have now recorded some interviews for this same archive.  Looking at the period from 1994 to 2014.  But I’m not concentrating on the people at the top of the organisation or politicians like Frank Gillard.  Rather trying to choose people who , whilst not voiceless, may not historically have been chosen for such an archive.  I did also go to the then top.  You have to to understand the BBC .  What is interesting about this period and the subject I am looking at – how the BBC became aware of the World Wide Web and the internet and what it did about it is how a rather divergent group of people could unite around the implications of a new technology and create clusters of interest which would, eventually , get together and get the organisation moving. I only realised after interviewing Professor Lizzie Jackson that she is related to Frank Gillard.  Which is a nice piece of history in its own right.

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Filed under bbc, Blogging, citizens journalism, corporate history, digital ethnography, history, innovation, media

social media for innovation at the BBC (and elsewhere)

We’re trying out Yammer inside the BBC to create conversations outside of email. As we are always on the look out for better ways of communicating across collaborations inside and outside the BBC’s firewall and because we test a lot of tools opinion about which might be best for us is, of course divided even in our own community.

So I read with interest on Ethan’s blog that Telefonica in Spain have gone one step further. They use Yammer but they have also introduced an internal video sharing service.

Researchers working on projects get two minutes to explain their work to their colleagues – some break the rules and run long, but most as well-behaved, and it’s possible to get the gist of most projects with just a few seconds of video, making it far easier to surf through than a huge document repository. (I assume they’re heavily tagged and annotated to make them highly searchable.) Using Yammer, 350 members of his (Carlos Domingo, who runs the R&D unit) team share ideas on a Twitter-like network that’s closed to the company, and encourages employees to share what they’re working on and what problems they could use help with.

Now that’s what I call useful. I may have to suggest it back at the ranch. I have always thought that learning to collaborate and communicate well inside the organisation (“everyone can speak to everyone ” should be one of the mantras of any creative company) made it a lot easier to go down the open innovation route.

Companies which were born as digital natives have less of an issue with this it seems. Google put their video conversations about their research online .- Google roundtable has Researchers and Engineers talking about their R&D and their Tech talks are there there too – on You Tube, of course. But they also post women@google talks and authors@google and musicians@google talks amongst other things.

Euan Semple at the BBC lead us down the path of more open communications when he introduced our internal wikis and blogs way back in 2002/03. I remember that as a complete breakthrough. Places where we could share documents and actually reveal what we were doing and perhaps even discuss that with peers around the organisation, it sounds like nothing now, but it was huge. That paved the way (another post for another day) for our external blogs (the project I Iead on the innovation side ) and staff blogs in 2005/06. By the way the guidelines for BBC staffers blogging were all written up internally and collaboratively on a wiki masterminded by Nick Reynolds (and now published externally too)

BBC Backstage got through it’s own beta testing and launch at the same time which was no accident.

You’ll find lots of talk at the moment about opening up the BBC further through partnerships of one kind of another but these are and were , I think, necessary preconditions.

In the past you would have said the BBC really communicates what it is about to the public only via its programmes as well as via press releases, annual reports, consultations and complaints the historic tools of corporate communications.

But now many staff on official blogs and personal blogs offer additional insight into what is going on behind the scenes in terms of how we do our jobs, how the BBC works, how we make decisions and importantly who we are. That’s incredibly important for collaborations and partnerships of any kind – knowing who you are doing business with, or talking to and being able to talk to them creates a virtual circle of information leading to understanding and participation being able to be used effectively

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Filed under bbc, Behind the Scenes, Blogging, collaboration, engagement, innovation, media, participation, research

picnic08: Charles Leadbeater and Clay Shirky. Boulders and Pebbles

I noticed at this conference that I got most from the sessions where there was room for new conversations to take place between the speakers after their keynotes or presentations in the one-on-one exchange between them , intersected by questions from the floor. I wonder too if it is the time when speakers themselves can think new thoughts? I have two examples of this from Picnic08 .

The first from my own talk when my CD and powerpoint became corrupted and I had to speak without slides which will be the subject of another post.. the second in the final moments of Charlie Leadbeater’s talk when Clay Shirky asked him some questions and you had two great minds on stage thinking together – thinking live, thinking as performance.

Charlie in one section of his talk , captured here , talked about mainstream media organisations as Boulders, and individual content creators as Pebbles. His argument which built very elegantly suggested more than strongly that the Pebbles will have the future and that Boulders could never understand the agility, creativity and sheer potential generated by the pro-am, the user-generated and the unleashed creative potential of the network.

And what’s more, he argued, the Boulder (mainstream media) could never manage creatively enough to harness this explosion of creativity (I am paraphrasing here so please do correct me if I am wrong) . The landscape of the beach was changing and this was a direction that was now unleashed. But in the Q&A with Clay Shirky Charlie talked about his earlier meetings with Business keen to harness the creativity of the Pebbles and who asked him how best to harness the energy and to mange their output?

Rocks, Pebbles and Boulders by SixSixSith

Rocks, Pebbles and Boulders by SixSixSith

This posed a bit of a conundrum, for me at least. On the one hand the future of creativity and agility was in the hand of the pebbles who are free to network and grow their interconnectedness, on the other the needs of business to harness such creativity in order to get output. So I made an observation from the conference floor which I hoped might move things on from this either /or dialogue. I identified myself as both a Boulder and a Pebble. I work in a Boulder, but I am also a Pebble I write my blog, I contribute to other blogs and in other ways with my more individual creativity and output. And what’s more I work in my Boulder to encourage more Pebbles to interact with us and our Boulder to become more permeable – and in this respect and now I am now pushing at an Open door.

So isn’t the landscape more beautiful if you have Boulders and Pebbles on the beach together ? Isn’t the question rather about what is the creative or dynamic type of leadership needed in the networked world to harness the strengths and creativity of both and encourage the exchange – rather than assert the two camps , with the one on the path to triumphing the other.

Clay picked up the theme and contextualised it in terms of governance and management: people need a framework in which to be creative or innovate – the blank page does not always help them. He also talked about his analysis of the Linux Kernel report and how even Boulders can fund people to produce work that is valuable to the wider eco-system and enable the Pebbles to become stronger (my paraphrasing but for a proper summary of that work see here . And so, whether Boulders or Pebbles, the issue is of governance and framework setting – creative management in a way if such a thing can exist. I think Charlie agreed with this – while there are lots of examples he cited of people coming together in networks to do things together there needs to be a spark or a catalysit – and it seems what we may be talking about is the new definition of leadership, or creative leadership in the networked work place, or the networked world.

What I do know is that the next morning Clay came back to the platform and told us that after that talk and exchange he had torn up his prepared talk and started again with something new – I blogged that at the time. So perhaps the new had been allowed to emerge in those moments of thinking aloud and live – those moments at conferences that so easily get lost to the schedule but which produce lots of new value.

But getting back to creative leadership the session at Picnic that certainly made me happiest was watching and listening to Itay Talgam talk to a packed hall about creative leadership in the form of the symphony conductor. I couldn’t have taken notes so spellbound I was by his dissection of the meaning of the body language of the various maestro (maestri?) he showed us. Of course if you go to a classical concert more likely than not you will see the back of the conductor’s head and shoulders and not his face. But Itay turned it all around with some clips, and stories and lead us into an understanding of what such leadership could be best demonstrated by Leonard Bernstein. Ethan Zuckerman’s description of the talk is terrific, as is the one by Masters of Media. At the end we were left watching a clip of Bernstein conducting without moving his body or his arms. The expressions on his face, a raised eyebrow or an expression of pleasure or suffering were enough to communicate all he needed to after all the work he had done with the orchestra in advance. Just one look and he had them where he wanted them, and they collaborated to give him, and us, what we wanted to hear. No better end to a day of discussions around collaboration and leadership, and boulders and pebbles.

Here is an interview with Itay from Picnic08, followed by a Leonard Bernstein clip (with hands!)

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Ofcom scraps PSP and Channel 4 goes for Innovation

Ofcom has scrapped the PSP. This is very interesting. At the Oxford Media Convention in January this year, at the session about the PSP and ideas about the future of public service broadcasting I made a comment from the floor as the temperature rose on the panel. Perhaps I just do too much facilitation at the moment. But what I said was that it seemed to me that the PSP proposal had always been a carrot or a stick (rather than a real thing). What had happened in the last year was that the industry, in its criticism, had taken it to be a stick and tried to kill it but it could have been seen as a carrot. Am beginning to wonder having just listened to the new Channel Four Innovation Strategy online this morning whether Channel Four might have taken it to be a carrot. I think we should be told….

Whatever has been going on behind the scenes, the Channel 4 Innovation for the Public fund sounds interesting

“Designed to “kick start a wave of new investment in public service digital media for audiences around Britain” the £50m 4IP fund will launch in July as a collaboration between Channel 4 and a series of development and media agencies from around the UK”

as does some of their language around creating value for the public and a new public value framework.

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Filed under bbc, Behind the Scenes, channel 4, innovation, media, Ofcom, PSP

“Behind the Scenes”: how we make media @ the BBC

I’m working on a new project and in the early phases of scoping what it might be. It’s been described formally like this:

The Director-General informed the Trust that he has commissioned a major new online project which will enable the public to explore how contemporary media content is produced. The BBC believes this will be a major contribution to media literacy in Britain.”

So I have been looking at what other organisations are doing, and what BBC people (past and present) are already doing by way of talking to audiences about how they make what they make.

I’m tagging what I find on the internet on my delicious stream. Current told us how to make media from the start. Four Docs from Channel 4 is also telling you how to make but also asking you to comment.

On the media is from NPR and they say ” For one hour a week, the show tries to lift the veil from the process of “making media,” especially news media, because it’s through that lens that we literally see the world and the world sees us”

I like MediaShift by Mark Glaser at PBS. Recently he interviewed Patrick Ruffini on the use of mobile and social media in the US by Presidential candidates. And while this post is not about how we make media, it is about how media shapes our lives which is the media literacy part of the project. Looks like he has started a new area called IdeaLabs whose tagline is “Reinventing community news for the Digital Age”.

I see that Dan Gillmor is writing there, about bringing entrepreneurial thinking and behaviour to the creation of new journalism projects, though not from Beijing where I think he is right now!

In my next post I’ll describe more what we are already doing at the BBC and how some research conversations are already leading to people talking more, and showing more, about what we do “Behind the Scenes” which is the working title of the project. Alright it’s not very original. But it does what it says on the tin. Also how other people talk about us and what we are up to.

But I’d love to hear about what else is going on in this area. Who’s doing what? And any ideas about what you’d like to know about too.

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Filed under bbc, bbc blog network, Behind the Scenes, channel 4, Current, innovation, media, media literacy, npr, pbs