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Creating a Better Sandbox

New management styles for tech transformation require everyone to play along 6/01/2015 8:00 AM Eastern

FINDING NEW TALENT may be job-one for top technologists, but they’ve also been working to reinvent the way they manage their tech teams.

 

Discovery CTO John Honeycutt stresses that as traditional TV businesses have converged with digital media, the company has also had to combine technical infrastructures to make sure that teams for broadcast, IT and digital are tightly integrated. “Information exchange is one of the most critical things we have to be focused on,” said Honeycutt.

 

Management structures also have to be more agile and fluid. Vince Roberts, executive VP of global operation and CTO of the Disney/ABC Television Group, said that several years ago he began implementing a management style based on the principles of “agile” software development, which emphasizes speeding up the delivery of products by using a more collaborative, customer-focused approach. “It is a tool we use to help socialize change,” he said. “We can’t produce content and deliver content like we did 40 years ago. It just doesn’t scale in a world that changes so rapidly.”

 

Similar thoughts come from Cable- Labs CEO Phil McKinney, who has written a book on the subject called Beyond the Obvious: Killer Questions That Spark Game-Changing Innovation. He stressed that companies have to overcome the culture of fear, be patient investors and be more transparent with their employees so that they aren’t “always worrying about being whacked.”

 

“To create a culture of innovation, you have to be tolerant of failure,” McKinney said. “Everyone struggles with the fear of failure…but when you take out 100% of the risk, you also take out 100% of the potential of discovering and trying new things. You have to be willing to try things and have some of them blow up in your face.”

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