Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Press Releases

Stop Planning and Start Doing

Lessons on how to become innovative

Photo of Mark Briggs
Mark Briggs

By Deb Shaw
Editor, Suburban Publisher

If there was an overriding theme in the lessons taught by Mark Briggs at the SNA Foundation’s first webinar of the New Year it was that, in order for innovation to be practiced at any company, people need to stop planning and start doing.

To illustrate his point, Briggs described a friend who now works as Chief Tech Officer at a local startup in the Seattle area but who had previously worked in a corporate environment in which he managed hundreds. In his former corporate life, the friend tells Briggs that he spent about 80% of his time planning and about 20% doing; in sharp contrast, at the startup company where he now works, he spends only about 5% of his time planning and 95% doing. Marked difference. Old thinking/new thinking; old normal/new normal; legacy company/startup company. There are lessons here folks.

When Briggs took center stage in mid-January to lead the Innovation At Work: An Introduction webinar, he attracted quite an audience — both in quantity and diversity — which speaks volumes about the desire among suburban and community media company staffers to further their practices and thinking when it comes to breaking new ground at their legacy newspaper companies. Briggs’ webinar attracted almost 140 registrants and virtually every job title was represented. Publishers, editors, web managers, ad sales account execs and managers, audience development supervisors, market research folks and more — you name it and that registration list had it. Another testament to the appeal of this topic among local media types.

Briggs did not disappoint and got right to several lessons.

What is Innovation?

Briggs says it’s easier to understand what innovation is by examining what it’s not. It’s not an epiphany moment when suddenly lightening is captured in a bottle. Referring to a book by Scott Berkun titled the Myths of Innovation, this epiphany moment is unnatural and not to be expected. Isaac Newton did not discover gravity when an apple fell on his head. There was a plethora of thinking, experimentation and years of work that went into Newton’s Laws.

The back story to innovation is hard work and sacrifice. Think of the 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle — putting in that final piece to complete the project looks so easy but getting to that point is the real story.

Briggs acknowledges everyone in the newspaper business agrees that the industry is in flux and he says it’s critical to be optimistic and enthusiastic about the new normal. These are vital attitudinal ingredients to the process.

How Innovation Is Taught

Look around and it’s easy to see many practical examples of innovative thinking. So many new cool ideas are being tried and executed. Briggs says that innovation isn’t copying an idea that’s working elsewhere, that it’s not so much the idea that is innovation; rather, it’s the process of creating an innovative culture that lets the team stop planning and start doing. The most important step in the innovation process is to move from the meeting room to real life and putting ideas into practice.

Innovating in the newsroom: tips

Click graphic to enlarge.

Suffice it to say that the basic ingredients of creativity, risk, hard work and optimism have to be present in your organization in order for an innovative process to unfold.

Next, you need to instill catalysts to make the process happen. Make it a priority to start doing — trying new ideas and letting everyone know that it’s OK to fail when risk comes into play. So often in traditional cultures, managers want proof of a positive outcome before green-lighting a project. Forget that approach, says Briggs. “That’s backwards looking and not part of the innovation process.”

Set goals — measure progress.

Change your culture. At the end of the day culture eats strategy for lunch. Too often, an ‘old normal’ culture trumps what you could have otherwise come up with. Don’t underestimate the value of enthusiasm and excitement.

Change is not in the DNA at most traditional companies but there are valuable lessons to be learned by accepting and instilling a change-embracing culture. The NewsU Innovation e-course says that while the momentum of any organization serves to protect the status quo, there cannot be innovation without change. Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, said an organization's leaders must drive change. "Collaboration produces change, but leaders drive change," she said.

Pointing to Tina Seelig, a wonderful professor at Stanford University who teaches MBA students about creative innovation, Briggs described an experiment she conducted with her class. She divided students into teams and gave each $5 seed money and two hours to earn as much money as possible. Whoever came up with the business idea that made the most money was the winner.

One group bought a $5 bicycle pump and earned $200 in 2 hours by offering free air pressure checks to fellow students and charged $1 if air pump was needed; another group went to the downtown Palo Alto restaurants where all the Venture Capitalists hang out and got prime lunch reservations which they then sold to the VC’s who didn’t want to wait for a table; the group that won though realized that their most valuable asset wasn’t $5 or the two hour window. They realized that the most valuable thing they had was their presentation time in front of fellow MBA Stanford students and they sold their class presentation slot for a hefty premium to an area startup company who enthusiastically presented their company and employment offers to these crème de la crème students who would soon be entering the job market.

The big lesson, says Briggs, is that we frame problems way too tightly. If we keep packing them and unpacking them we realize we have assets and resources that are way more valuable than we imagine. If limited to $5 and 2 hours, the scope of the project is quite small. Instead, begin looking at opportunities from as wide a perspective as possible.

Some tips from Tina Seelig:

  • Make your own luck (also known as the harder you work, the luckier you’ll be)
  • Know how to fail fast and frequently
  • Don’t wait to be anointed
  • Never miss an opportunity to be fabulous. “You must be heart and soul into the process of Innovation,” says Briggs.

Where To Start

Just one month old and already racking up a record number of users, the NewsU course Innovation at Work: Making New Ideas Succeed ( is an excellent resource to develop the skills of innovation. The course is free, thanks to a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, self-paced and you can start and stop as you choose. In total, it takes about 2 hours to complete. Upon completing this course, you’ll be able to:

  • Define innovation
  • Recognize roadblocks to innovation, generally and within your organization.
  • Identify how well your organization innovates
  • Identify innovative projects that have improved journalism
  • Brainstorm potential innovations for your newsroom
  • Start a conversation with colleagues about opportunities to innovate in your organization

Additionally, Briggs recommends launching innovation-minded work groups in your company. Start small. Think divide and conquer and seed each team with folks with varied areas of expertise. Establish 2 or 3 small groups and give them the authority to launch anything that the whole team agrees they should try. Give them the power to fail. Take care to pick the right people. "Avoid planners," says Briggs. "You want do-ers."

Do not let a lack of money or resources stop you. With the internet at your fingertips, there is massive data and open source technology available. TIP: — a clearing house of open source technology. Also check out and — you can post your project needs and have people from around the world bid on your job. Briggs says these sites are competitive and low cost.

Final idea — host your own innovation challenge. Like national entrepreneurial competitions, the point/goal is not necessarily to create something in the end that will be produced by your company. Goal is to give hands on experience of what it’s like to be in the trenches with an idea and trying to make it work. Get the idea off the white board and into play — try to make it work.

Set it up so that you’re building something. Not just brainstorming ideas.

Think about inviting outsiders. Most communities have very smart people in them — there’s no shortage of intellectual property in most communities and the good news is that these local intellects often really, really like the newspaper and want it to succeed.

Briggs talked extensively about the concept of an Innovation Challenge in the webinar and you can listen to an archived recording. If you want to pursue this idea, have a listen and hear some examples of existing challenges and his tips for launching one of your own.

Innovation at Work logo

Mark Briggs is the co-author of Innovation at Work: How to Make New Ideas Succeed, the latest in a series of e-courses sponsored by the SNA Foundation and professionally produced by Poynter Institute’s NewsUniversity. The course is free of charge thanks to a grant from the Knight Foundation.

He recently led an SNA Foundation sponsored webinar to introduce the concept of innovation and to teach basic lessons of how to bring the process to your company. Although the e-course is geared to newsrooms, it is absolutely applicable to anyone in any department in your organization.

Briggs is also the author of Journalism 2.0, a digital literacy guide for the information age and Journalism Next: A Practical Guide to Digital Reporting and Publishing. He's also the CEO and co-founder of Serra Media, a Seattle-based technology company. Previously, Briggs was assistant managing editor for interactive news at The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash. from 2004-2008 and new media director at The Herald in Everett, Wash. from 2000-2004. He was named to Presstime magazine's "20 under 40" list for 2007 and he earned journalism degrees from Gonzaga University and the University of North Carolina.

Comments (23)

# kana
January 23, 2014 @ 9:36 AM
Running outside setting is better for you get on a treadmill. Running on paved surfaces is better in the winter than using an indoor treadmill. jump manual
# kana
January 23, 2014 @ 9:36 AM
Running outside setting is better for you get on a treadmill. Running on paved surfaces is better in the winter than using an indoor treadmill. jump manual
# kana
February 1, 2014 @ 6:31 AM
Building muscle needs a true commitment that lasts a while, so it's important for you to keep yourself motivated. You may even set rewards that are directly related to muscle building. For instance, reward yourself with a massage, and will help you recover on your days off. adonis golden ratio
# kana
February 4, 2014 @ 9:05 AM
Many thanks for the exciting blog posting! fat loss factor
# kana
February 8, 2014 @ 6:01 AM
Keep careful track of your calories. Go buy an inexpensive spiral notebook. Use this spiral notebook as a personal food journal of your very own. This is a perfect way to record what you eat and keeping a close eye on your progress each day.

A proven tip to remember is to avoid processed foods. You will not buy as much junk food this way and stick to foods that are high in fiber and natural ingredients. venus factor review
# farkyaratan
February 9, 2014 @ 7:07 AM
First of all thank you for the valuable information you have written carefully ederim.Ben I'm quite happy to read your comments. I follow your writings continuous success. You can follow my blog. customized fat loss
# wl
February 19, 2014 @ 11:46 PM
excellent. one of the best articles I have every read. This is the information which I have been searching. Great information. Ecopolitan Tembusu Condo Vue 8 Sea Horizon bag bags Ladies bag Handbags Handbag Leather bags Rivertrees Residences Rivertrees Rivertrees Condo this article is worth bookmarking. keep it up !
# kana
February 23, 2014 @ 6:20 AM
My breasts have grown by far more than 1 cup size in the last handful of months. Bring the weights as significantly as meet at chest level inside a circular movement. Side effects brought on by smoking Marijuana can generate big male breast. What if I told you that there is a way to make your boobs grow 1 to 2 sizes in four to six months naturally. Even if you do not eat the meat, you have access to these hormones by eating the eggs and drinking the milk. boost your bust reviews
# kana
February 24, 2014 @ 7:44 AM
Lastly, create a joint mission in life collectively. So just before deciding on whether texting your ex is a very good idea you need to take a moment to consider abpout whether or not you genuinely need to get back with you ex. Right here five distinct established approaches for how to get him back following a break up. In a partnership you are both equals, if your ex requires you back via pity, then you are no longer equals which will most likely lead to issues for the partnership. Break ups suck. text your ex back
# kana
March 2, 2014 @ 11:58 PM
If you normally use your treadmill for exercise, they can easily run around their neighborhood. Running uphill will result in different muscles being used and challenged. penis advantage
# shubham
March 8, 2014 @ 5:53 AM
Thank you for your share.I know that you explain it very well. And I hope that other readers will also experience how I feel after reading your article.
holi songs
bhojpuri holi video songs
Holi songs
# farkyaratan
March 9, 2014 @ 11:14 AM
Make sure to moisturize on a part of your daily basis. Keeping skin moisturized is great for many reasons. It can also help battle cellulite. Massage your problem areas gently while you apply it. This will help to break down some fatty deposits which also fights cellulite factor system.
# farkyaratan
March 9, 2014 @ 11:16 AM
A lemon juice wash has real benefits against acne, oily skin, and enlarged pores. Use it once a week to improve larger pores or excess oil on your skintervention guide.

# kana
March 12, 2014 @ 4:17 AM
Sculpting is a relaxation hobby that can be relaxing. There is nothing quite like the sensation of holding clay in your hands. Sculpting is one hobby that should be learned through a class.Join a class and maybe even take a friend with you. the tao of badass
# sayusoto
March 17, 2014 @ 9:56 AM
Planning is the sneakiest form of self sabotage. Entrepreneurs know they have to do it (it's essential) yet it's also a huge source of needless procrastination. The fact that we need to plan cannot be denied. phen375 reviews scam
# Steven J.
March 19, 2014 @ 5:00 PM
I agree with with the author
most people are planning too much and doing nothing
me too I was like that but now I learned how to draw realistic dreams and reach's not easy to do but if your dreams are reachable then you will see results
old school new body review
# wl
March 28, 2014 @ 10:36 PM
this is one of the best articles on this website. definitely excellent information and hope to read more. awesome. this is the information i have been searching. Pollen & Bleu | Pollen and Bleu | farrer drive condo | Bags | Bag | Handbags | Designer Bags | Handbag | Shoulder Bags | Designer Handbags | Ladies bag | Thanks for sharing information that is actually helpful
# Steven J.
April 12, 2014 @ 11:04 AM
Thanks for this great post
cellulite factor
fat loss factor
muscle maximizer
customized fat lossr
visual impact muscle building
# shubham
April 16, 2014 @ 5:45 AM
easter quotes for kids
# shubham
April 17, 2014 @ 9:35 AM

easter games for kid
easter coloring pages to print

Post Comment

Only registered users may post comments.

qqxcz     Phone: (888) 486-2466

Privacy Statement  |  Terms Of Use
Copyright 2013 Local Media Association