27 May 2009

25 May 2009

Reimagination-inspired teamwork during the last four years has reinforced the value of a more collaborative way of managing our business

So there is a change of staff at the top of the Globe and Mail, with Edward Greenspon out and John Stackhouse in. First, I wonder what this means for the Globe and Mail. Second, this was announced in the worst-written item of writing I have seen in some time, an office e-mail from publisher Phillip Crawley seemingly leaked to Macleans' Paul Wells. Some choice selections in bold below.

The need to restructure our business, to meet the challenges of the
current economic environment and the rapid changes in media
consumption habits, has been our overarching goal during FY09.

Reimagination-inspired teamwork during the last four years has reinforced the value of a more collaborative way of managing our business. By drawing on the collective strengths of the team, we are all better able as individuals to contribute to the success of The Globe and Mail. With that objective in mind, I have reviewed the composition of the Executive Team, and identified priority areas for improvement.

New skills and different styles of leadership are needed to take The Globe and Mail to levels of achievement which meet the ambitions of our shareholders, to cement our standing as the best in Canada at creating high-quality content for consumption on whatever platform is most desirable for our readers, users and advertisers.

We are building on a position of strength not enjoyed by many of our competitors. The executive changes outlined below are intended to ensure that The Globe and Mail is in the prime spot to take advantage of the market opportunities that will arise when the recession eases.

To deliver the required results, I am adding one extra position to the senior team and changing responsibilities and reporting lines in three other parts of the business.

Ed Greenspon, who has been our Editor-in-Chief for almost seven years, is stepping down and is succeeded by John Stackhouse, the Editor of Report on Business since 2004.

John, 46, who is a Queen’s commerce graduate, joined The Globe and Mail in 1989, and has proved himself to be a strong team leader in our cross-functional business initiatives, especially during the last two years when he championed the relaunch of our Globe Investor site.

He brings a high-class pedigree to the Editor-in-Chief position, having been a distinguished foreign correspondent before taking up executive roles as Foreign Editor and National Editor. He has raised Report on Business to levels of excellence in print and online which are unsurpassed.

There will be other occasions to pay tribute to Ed Greenspon’s outstanding service to The Globe and Mail, which he joined in 1986. He made his reputation as an astute observer of Canadian politics and turned the Ottawa bureau into a powerhouse of coverage. Since 2002 he has spearheaded our editorial transformation, particularly in exploring new ways to tell stories. The record of awards won under his leadership is second to none. I know you will join me in thanking Ed and wishing him well as he moves on to new challenges.

In addition, I expect to make an early announcement that we have recruited a Vice President of IT, having conducted an external search in recent months.

We need a dedicated leader in the IT Department to enable us to choose the right path forward in our use of technology and choice of systems. Given that most of our annual capital expenditure is devoted to this area, I need the best possible guidance and expertise.

He/she will take over responsibility for IT from Perry Nixdorf, whose triple-headed responsibilities as VP of Operations have become impossible to sustain. Perry will now be able to concentrate exclusively on preparing for the transition to our new presses in 2010 – one of the biggest undertakings in The Globe’s long history – and to continue with the revitalization of the Circulation Department, which has undergone radical reform under his leadership. Perry will remain VP of Operations, looking after the Circulation and Production departments.

The importance of the digital revolution affecting our business is well understood, but remains the most demanding issue we face in terms of the complex options ahead of us.

From next Monday, June 1, the role of VP Digital will be filled by Angus Frame, who has proved that he has the skill and determination to lead this department since his move from Editorial last summer. Angus, 37, who graduated in political science from McMaster and from Ryerson in journalism, has worked for The Globe and Mail since 1996
and was Editor of globeandmail.com before switching to Digital. He will work closely with the new VP of IT and with Roger Dunbar, who has headed Digital for the last two years, and now takes up the new position of VP of Business Development and Marketing.

The reorganization of departmental responsibilities which has been under way since the start of the year means that some staff who currently report to Roger will move with him to help him fulfill his new role. The main aim of Roger and his team, which includes management of co-brand products, will be to identify new revenue streams across all our properties, and lead the process of launching and supporting new business initiatives. He will continue to head our marketing, promotions and research efforts.

Details of the staffing arrangements in IT, Digital and Business Development will be announced shortly by departmental heads.

All of these changes are an expression of my determination to ensure the long-term health of The Globe and Mail. With the backing of our shareholders, I am confident that we can be among the best in the world at what we choose to do. I look forward to your support and advice in making those wise choices.

If you have any immediate questions or comments, please email me at pxxxx.xxxx@xxxxx. I will be holding Town Halls in each department to discuss these changes.



15 May 2009

Elemental Strategy

Is Barack Obama afraid of his generals?

If so, he wouldn't be the first US President to be overly beholden to the Pentagon. But what's going on?

Tom Ricks:

I am told that General Odierno's objections to the timing of the release of a new round of photos of detainees being abused in Iraq were decisive to President Obama's decision Wednesday to reverse himself and decide against the release of those photos...

...[Obama] must think he is running up some pretty big chits with them [the Pentagon]. I know he is trying to do the right thing but at some point he is going to have to say, My way or the highway.

Because I'm an eternal optimist, I'll suggest that major nuclear disarmament and a repeal of DADT are two of the policies Obama is building up Pentagon good will for.

But as Ricks points out, at some point you stop looking savvy in the eyes of your supporters, and just start looking weak. Or worse, lame - when you're losing John Stewart, you're losing.

UPDATE: The more I think about it, the more I find myseslf agreeing with Andrew Sullivan that the appointment of Stanley McChrystal as the commander of US forces in Afghanistan is a major reason that the Obama administration is delaying release of the detainee photographs. And that's a very bad.