The special needs of transformation in media companies

When changing outcomes means changing culture, the dots need to connect all the time.

Media companies and news organizations dislike change even more than the norm. It’s curious because ‘new’ is part of the media DNA.

We come from media. We’ve managed many change projects in media companies and seen them through to successful conclusions. We’ve been there when things went wrong and, from it, we’ve learned how to get the process back on track.

Our experience is that it takes more than incentives, a coalition, and quick wins. Those can help, but by themselves, they leave the potential for backslides and reversions. Media transformation that’s sustainable over time comes after at least four extra pieces are in place:

  1. Before starting: determining change readiness
  2. While underway: connecting the dots between values and vision, and what’s working and what isn’t and why
  3. Start to finish: helping the audience be part of the change, and keeping an eye on the external environment. Are there new offers? Shifts in audience behaviours?
  4. Before starting and after the main part is done: over-communicating with staff, providing evidence-based findings with both internal and external examples.

It takes continual adaptation. Forcing a change to stay on track simply because it was planned that way is counterproductive. Knowing the tolerance for change before starting takes the guesswork out of adjustments. Keeping people informed continually is essential: critical thinkers become critics when they don’t know enough about what’s going on around them.

No two change projects are ever alike. But it helps to know the telltales to watch for.


  • Project design and validation
  • Change readiness assessment
  • Facilitation of sessions at key stages
  • Issues management
  • Identification or design of training programs as required
  • Guidance to management, or direct project leadership, as warranted
  • Progress reporting at regular intervals, or by milestones, or both


  • 3 – 18 months
  • Elapsed time is influenced by the project scope and by emerging circumstances