Thursday, 9 December 2010

Arcadia seminar: Changing the BBC

On Wednesday night I went to my first Arcadia seminar, which was Simon Andrewes on the subject "Changing the BBC: From Castles to Communities". I won't go into too much detail about what Simon said as he was speaking off the record (which made me feel like I was in the West Wing. Just call me Annie Concannon.*), but the general theme was of the BBC's move from "castle" style teams working seperately on different programmes (and the radio, web and television teams all being in completely different locations), to a more open, collaborative and cohesive newsroom.

The Beeb is a huge cultural institution, with a complex organisational structure, and it has to respond to changes in culture. I think an obvious parallel can be drawn with a university like Cambridge, rather than our "castles" being different programmes or media, they are the colleges and faculties that make up the university.

Simon mentioned the following points as being key to keep in mind during the change of the newsroom, and I think these apply equally well to library services:
  • Focus on audience
  • Sharing of as much content as possible
  • Simplicity
  • Efficiency
  • Enough flexiblity to react to an unfolding digital landscape

The issue of cuts came up - one audience member pointed out that you tend to get more creative ideas and changes when faced with cuts. Something has to drive change and propel it through the inertia of a large established institution. Well I guess that's one silver lining. Is there anything else that could give such a kickstart to change or does it always have to be something bad like a slashed budget?

Simon finished up by saying that you can change big organisation effectively. A big organisation can't afford to not be efficient, or to be no more than the sum of its parts. Be bold and be radical!


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