You are AOL, a business living on past success. You are trying to reinvent yourself to stay relevant. What do you do?
Here is a my quick recap of the road AOL has taken.
- AOL realized the value of creating quality content and architected the acquisition of Engadget and the rest of the Weblogs Inc. family of sites. One of the chief architects of that deal was AOL executive Jim Bankoff.
- Current AOL CEO Tim Armstrong saw nearer-term dollar signs and decided to pivot by implementing “The AOL Way”. This new strategy dramatically lowers the bar when it comes to quality and causes AOL to cast the shadow of a content farm. Review The AOL Way slides for yourself.
- The top staffers of Engadget then exit AOL and reappear at SB Nation, a site passionate about quality content. The SB Nation CEO is Jim Bankoff.
Kara Swisher on why they left:
All of the above had left Engadget in a series of departures of late, all due to increasing unhappiness with AOL’s management and content strategy.
AOL appears to be circling the drain. Only time will tell.
Noted developer, Wil Shipley, posted a response to this situation using a farming versus mining analogy. It is a great read. The message is that farmers are invested for the long-term, they care, and they leave behind something of value. Miners remove everything of value, cash it in, and leave behind something without worth. I agree with Wil that the people I most respect are farmers.
The most amazing thing about getting to go to TED was discovering that all the people I admire are farmers. The doctors and DNA-researchers and dancers and chocolate-makers and oceanographers and cosmologists and investors all have one thing in common: they are total nerds. They work on the thing they love literally all the time. You can’t talk to them without talking about their passion.
If you are a decision-maker in your organization, and you are, how can you become a farmer? Care. Do it well. Create an extra test. Look it over again. Ask an open-ended question. Encourage and recognize quality.
It is your life. Own it.