Skip to primary content


To Newspapers: Use Disruptive Technology Methods

Disregard yesterday’s snarky comment here and read NewspaperNext: Blueprint for Transformation. Thanks to Bill Densmore I got a backdoor link directly to the report, which I never did receive via email.

It is a must read. The report makes clear early on that much of it is built on the work of Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, who in 1997 explained how disruptive technologies manifest themselves and in 2003 offered solutions with The Innovator’s Solution. He is a consultant for NewspaperNext.

I still have more reading to do, but so far the 96-page report follows that two-step pattern. It defines disruptive technologies and then offers solutions on how newspapers can use disruptive thinking to their own advantage.

It is a little cold blooded, at least so far, and will appeal to the profit instincts rather than the civic and citizen journalism side, but more about that later when I read the whole document. Here is a sample of the interesting stuff so under the heading Spotting Nonconsumers:

It might seem strange that the first place to start when you think about creating new growth is with nonconsumers, or people who don’t consume your product. Across the sweep of history, however, many great growth businesses resulted from making it possible for people to do things that historically were difficult for them to do.

Start the quest for growth by asking, “What keeps people from consuming?”

Sometimes it is skills (people who lack the ability to “do it themselves”). Sometimes it is money (existing solutions are too expensive). Sometimes it is access (solutions may be difficult to use or obtain when people want them). And sometimes it is time.

Almost always, when a company begins to think about nonconsumers, the total potential market begins to look significantly larger, and the company’s market share looks significantly smaller.

Consider how thinking about nonconsumption led Reid Ashe, executive vice president and COO of Media General, to rethink the Richmond, Va. market. That market has about 16,000 public-facing businesses that might want to advertise in one of Media General’s products. However, Media General serves only about 3,500 of those businesses, leaving 12,500 as nonconsumers.

These nonconsumers may not advertise because Media General’s products are too expensive, reach too large an area or do not reach their target customers, or they may feel advertising is too complicated or difficult. Finding ways to serve those nonconsumers could open large opportunities for growth. Similarly, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch reaches about 370,000 readers each day, leaving about 435,000 nonconsumers-another large pool for potential growth. They might not consume because the newspaper contains more information than they want, takes more time than they have, costs more than they want to pay or does not adequately address the topics that interest them most.

For those of you who want to use the front door approach to get the report go here and sign up.

Technorati : , , : , ,

Comments are closed.