Double Time

I got an interesting request today from some other quarters that even though I’m setting out on a new path with Vino Veritas, that I continue to blog here on Uglyshz and keep open discussions/mentor folks in the new media world.

Interesting, because a lot of times I’m never really sure anyone is listening on this blog (though my stats seem to say that *someones* gotta be reading this stuff??).

Very flattering to be asked that and hope that in some way it’ll contribute something positive to the industry I’m taking a break from:)

Getting There – or Here

Just a quick entry tonight to say, after less than 120 days, we’ve gone from wild idea, to concept, to fully incorporated entity, and today we wrapped up our full financials rolled them into the business plan, and the plan has gone out to about 1/2 dozen folks.

It feels really good to have completed all this work this quickly, and we’ve continued to receive really positive feedback on the business and our approach to it.

Now it’s time to see where we go next.

In 2 weeks from Friday, I’m outta Endemol, and onto new horizons all the way!

Heavies Weigh in On the Long Tail

Chris Anderson has a (admittedly, I found it late…) great post about thinking about a Bear Stearns report on the basic assumptions of the media industry regarding user-generated-content and about the mantra of “content is king.”

It’s a good post, and has a great map of giving an overview of how random “hits” are from an industry that has an ever-increasing need for hits.

The bigger, and more excellent point is that it put “content is king” in context.

Bear Stearns believes (as do I; indeed a third of my book is focused on this) that in a world of infinite choice, content is only as valuable as your ability to find it. They call that “context and aggregation”, and it’s what both Google and your favorite blogger do when the filter the web according to a narrow lens, be it your expressed search term or their own sensibility.

And then, in one of the best parts of the report, they illustrate the problem with the notion that “content is king”. In practice, only good content is king, and good content is impossible to consistently create.

Reports like this give me ever greater hope and inspiration that this is the time to step out of the media business and do something that will give me the opportunity to step back in at the time of my choosing, and have the resources to create entertainment my way.

Forget mega-studios. Forget notes upon notes upon revisions from the MBA’s and the lawyers. Take the experience and knowledge of well-managed production, couple it with story well-told, your own way, unbeholden to anyone but yourself and the people contributing their talents and hard work to your creative endeavor, and just do it.

Good work, and good storytelling will find it’s way to an audience.

More on Job Descriptions

As a follow-on to a post a day or so ago about accountability and job descriptions an interesting bit of conversation came up today with some folks at Paychex, who will probably be handling our payroll and human resources administration for Vino Veritas.

One of the key things they strongly recommend keeping in each employee’s personnel file is a printed and signed job description from the employee.

Primarily not to protect the employee or because it’s good management, but because it protects the company from employee lawsuits when a company is sued by a dismissed employee. If an employee has a clear job description, then there is an objective, established yardstick by which to measure performance.

Fire someone without a clear job description, for “not doing their job” and in most states today, the employer is in for a nasty ride trying to prove that they fired the employee with just cause.

Learn something new everyday. YAY!

Job Descriptions & Accountability

I know that from time to time, I tend to go wandering off to my “Business School 101” soapbox and rant about things, and guess what? This is one of those times.

While there is a time in startups that requires people to wear a number of hats, as an organization grows it’s important to have job descriptions not because “delegation is what people in power do” but because there’s a number of really good reasons to create divisions of labor.

  1. Because different people have different skill sets. Ideally a job position matches their strongest and most developed skill sets with an appropriate job function.
  2. Because an accurate job description allows you to locate and find the best candidate for a given function.
  3. Because a job description gives both the employer and the employee a common starting point for measuring how well that person is doing in that position.

Now, those are good reasons, but the really critical reason, I believe, is;

  1. When everyone is responsible for everything, no one is responsible for anything.

    The business critical path of communication – the answer to “who do I talk to in order to get ‘x’ done?” is non-existent without knowing who is accountable for what.

    In the circumstance where there are multiple people responsible for the same part of a project depending upon either the importance of the project or the inability of one person to keep up with it, or the bosses perception of how crucial something is – without a single, clear tone of leadership and delegation, business hobbles along like a kid with a club foot.

    Let me say it again, because it’s important.

    When everyone is responsible for everything, no one is responsible for anything.

Without leadership that has the ability to qualitatively assess what kinds of skill sets and talents will help the business run better, your business will always be struggling, your employees going home frustrated, and your competitors clapping with glee while they kick your butt because you’re spending more time interviewing job candidates and hiring people who have no clue what they’re actually supposed to be doing.

Good job descriptions create clear lines of communication & accountability. Dismiss them at your own risk.