Friday, October 16, 2009

The "Establishment" in a Digital Era

The FT channels Clay Shirky (FT):

We have entered the Digital Age, but most of those in control in business, and indeed politics, are not digital natives. By the time they get to be the definitive boss, leaders are generally in their 50s. At that point in their life, they are unlikely to be ready to reinvent what they and their company do. “The Establishment” is just that – by nature, they are not dramatic reformers.

Unfortunately, a chief executive only a few years from retirement is hardly motivated to sack loyal colleagues to bring on board lots of teenagers to turn their company upside down. Psychologically, we are congenitally opposed to tearing down what we have helped create in order to build anew. Hence the status quo prevails, even if it is the demoralising task of managing decline with no salvation in sight. And so all efforts are applied to preservation in spite of a realisation that the economic model is broken – because no one is forcing the company in a new direction.

[...] If you have enjoyed the heyday of legacy media industries such as newspapers, magazines, radio or books, today’s tumbling sales, margins, profits, salaries and influence seem an unfolding tragedy. But lamenting change is like regretting the weather – futile and destructive. The only answer is to hire as many bright young things as you can afford and hope their dynamism will counteract the inevitable conservatism of an existing institution. [emphasis added]

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