The Right Skills for the Right Job

I am always surprised by how many M&E companies look internally for solutions development and deployment.  That being said, I am also surprised by how many of them get it right; sometimes initially and many times eventually.  I come from a consulting background and I know how hard it is to get all of the details right and stick to a plan and schedule.  Innovation is hard and usually requires a lot of specialized skills that are not always found within the operations staff of any company, regardless of industry.

In my consulting experience, methodology was everything.  It helped you understand what needed to be done, what resources would be required and what investment it would take to accomplish the goals.  Every consulting firm worth its salt will tell you that their methodology is the best there is, because it will always be the starting point for any new engagement.

There are people who specialize in innovation and change.  There are also people who specialize in operational efficiency.  They are usually not the same people.  Change folks get bored with operational work (doing the same thing day after day).  By the same token, operational people can feel exposed when asked to innovate and evolve.

People who don’t feel comfortable with change have probably either left the media and entertainment industry or never entered it, because no industry on earth changes as rapidly as M&E.  That didn’t use to be the case.  For years, innovations came slowly and methodically making it easy to stay on top of change.  The pace of technology sped up almost logarithmically when things went digital and now change is a regular part of daily life.  That, however, doesn’t make changing and innovating any easier.

Your business needs to understand the trends driving change in order to not create islands of technology that work today, but not tomorrow.  Innovation also needs to take into account a forward path to move to the next level of that innovation.  Most of us have really lousy crystal balls and can’t see into the future much beyond the next year (and for some even months).  How to you address these challenges and not strand investments and waste resources?

Make sure that your future is in capable hands.  Giving projects to the brightest engineers in your organization may not always be the answer.  Those people may not have the skills or desire to manage the details of the project.  When I was building cable TV systems in Chicago in the early 80’s for Westinghouse (Group W Cable for those with long memories), I had brilliant engineers working the projects who were more than happy to leave the details, scheduling and vendor relations to me as the general manager.

Make sure you have a strong methodology for program management, project planning, financial review, resource management, documentation and all that goes along with successfully navigating change.  For every successful project there is in our industry, there are many false starts and failed efforts.  Competition for limited M&E revenue gets stronger each day.  You can’t afford to get it right the second time.


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