More Organizations Are ‘Crowdsourcing’ Product Ideas from Employees

More Organizations Are ‘Crowdsourcing’ Product Ideas from Employees

One major consequence of our increasingly digital society and economy is that the next great business idea really can come from anywhere. Companies are increasingly taking this lesson to heart and looking for ways to solicit ideas from their entire community of employees, not just those formally dedicated to the development of new business. Last week, Digiday’s Max Willens took note of this trend in the media, observing the innovative techniques publishers are using to generate product ideas, such as a “Shark Tank”-style competition Politico tried out last summer:

Politico joins other publishers that are turning to their own employees to develop new revenue ideas. Before it was acquired by Meredith last fall, Time Inc. ran a similar internal competition that attracted nearly 60 submissions from employees. The Globe and Mail in Toronto and New York Daily News have run their own accelerator programs for years. Those programs have resulted in The Globe and Mail’s Workplace Awards, a profitable award and events program, and an ad-viewability tool at the Daily News.

Finding new sources of revenue has become a top priority for publishers everywhere. But in these cases, the goal is also to instill entrepreneurial thinking in a mature industry.

This concept is being tried in many industries, not just publishing. In our recent and ongoing research at CEB, now Gartner, we’ve seen many organizations turning to their employees through these types of ideation programs—some of which are much more effective than others. As you might imagine, inviting entire workforces to generate ideas can result in a certain amount of idea or information overload. The more interesting solutions we’ve seen guide employees to focus on and share the most helpful kinds of ideas, creating a sort of self-filtering mechanism.

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Disclosure of BBC Stars’ Salaries Draws Backlash, Exposes Wider Issues of Inequity

Disclosure of BBC Stars’ Salaries Draws Backlash, Exposes Wider Issues of Inequity

The recent release of high-earner compensation data by the BBC has brought to light some uncomfortable facts about gender and racial pay gaps at the UK’s national broadcaster and sparked a discussion about the problem of pay inequity throughout the country.

As a publicly-funded entity, the BBC fell under the purview of a government initiative in this year’s Royal Charter that required it to release the names of nearly 100 employees who earned more than £150,000 annually. “License fee payers have a right to know where their money goes,” Culture Secretary Karen Bradley told Newsweek, referring to the £147 fee per device (TV, tablet, etc.) that funds all of the UK’s public broadcasting. “By making the BBC more transparent it will help deliver savings that can then be invested in even more great programs.”

BBC director-general Tony Hall objected to the government directive: “The BBC operates in a competitive market,” he told Sky News. “And this will not make it easier for the BBC to retain the talent the public love. Ultimately, the BBC should be judged on the quality of its programmes.”

Published earlier this month, the list revealed startling discrepancies between women and minorities and their white, male colleagues. Of the 96 names on the list, only one third were female and just 11 percent were black or minority ethnic (BME, the UK’s catchall term for non-white minorities). The top seven earners, as well as 12 of the top 14, were men. Many women were found to be making much less than men in similar roles, while others in prominent roles did not even earn enough to make it onto the list:

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Publishers Court Tech Talent with Remote Work, Flexibility

Publishers Court Tech Talent with Remote Work, Flexibility

Digital technologies have become ever more crucial in nearly every sector, and it’s not just “tech companies” that need digital talent in today’s economy. Organizations whose businesses are centered on digital technology may have an edge over others in attracting this kind of talent, but everyone from manufacturers to universities faces the challenge of competing with Silicon Valley for highly in-demand candidates. Publishers, too, have taken steps to attract tech talent by opening offices in tech hubs and offering tech employees autonomy and flexibility, Digiday’s Ross Benes reports:

Since pubs can’t match tech firms dollar for dollar, they attract tech employees by giving them flexible schedules and letting them work remotely. Publishers emphasize that they give their engineers a lot of freedom, but pubs must keep their tech work challenging and rewarding to retain talent. One way to attract tech talent is to open up where people can work. This is part of the reason why Condé Nast, Vox Media and BuzzFeed set up offices in tech hot spot Austin, Texas. Publishers large and small adhere to this strategy.

About 10 percent of The Washington Post’s 200 developers and engineers work remotely in cities like Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; and Charleston, South Carolina. Axios, which is based in Washington, D.C., has just a handful of tech people, but a few of them work outside of its headquarters in places like Chicago and San Francisco. Mashable said that at least half of its 20 tech employees work remotely from cities like Portland, Oregon; Denver; and Phoenix.

As our Global Talent Monitor has shown over the past few years, compensation is consistently the top driver of talent attraction worldwide, though work-life balance, location, and job stability are also important factors.

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Did NBC Win Over Megyn Kelly With Work-Life Balance?

Did NBC Win Over Megyn Kelly With Work-Life Balance?

Last week, Fox News’ star anchor Megyn Kelly announced that she was leaving the conservative cable news channel for a new role hosting a daily daytime show and a Sunday newsmagazine on NBC. Kelly’s move to network television is a big deal in the media industry, but what’s also interesting about it is that, according to the New York Times, NBC convinced Kelly to change jobs with a promise of a more family-friendly schedule, and she may even have turned down a higher salary offer from Fox News because of it:

Ms. Kelly had spoken with top executives at ABC News, CNN and in the syndication industry, as well as NBC News, but NBC remained largely under the radar as a landing spot. One person briefed on Ms. Kelly’s deliberations said that [Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC’s news division,] won her over by starting the talks with a question about what she was seeking, instead of flatly offering possibilities.

He then came back with a deal that was tailored to her preferences. A daytime show would give her a schedule that would allow her to see her children off to school and to have dinner with them and her husband, Douglas Brunt, a novelist. … Fox News rivals who sought to hire Ms. Kelly away, including NBC News, had indicated that they could not match the $20 million offer from Fox, the cable news leader for the last 15 years running.

Of course, highly-paid media celebrities don’t have much in common with the average employee, but Kelly’s choice is representative of one many other working parents make. Bright Horizons’ 2016 Modern Family Index, released in October, found that 49 percent of new parents took a new job with a pay cut after having a child in order to work at a more family-friendly organization.

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Medium Drops Holacracy

Medium Drops Holacracy

In a blog post published on Friday, Medium’s Director of Operations Andy Doyle announced that the online publishing platform was abandoning the holacracy model of organizational structure, which it has been using for the past few years. Doyle explains why the radical experiment in “flat” hierarchy didn’t work for his organization:

Our experience was that it was difficult to coordinate efforts at scale. In the purest expression of Holacracy, every team has a goal and works autonomously to deliver the best path to serve that goal. But for larger initiatives, which require coordination across functions, it can be time-consuming and divisive to gain alignment.

Holacracy also requires a deep commitment to record-keeping and governance. Every job to be done requires a role, and every role requires a set of responsibilities. While this provides helpful transparency, it takes time and discussion. More importantly, we found that the act of codifying responsibilities in explicit detail hindered a proactive attitude and sense of communal ownership.

However, it looks like Medium isn’t simply retreating to a traditional management structure, but rather trying to innovate its own organizational philosophy to reap some of the benefits of holacracy without the downsides:

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