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Fred Jacobs is President of Jacobs Media, a media research and consulting firm. Jacobs Media clients have included CBS Radio, Premiere Radio Networks, Citadel, Greater Media, MTV Networks, Playboy, Amazon, Electronic Arts, NPR, Sylvan Learning Centers, and Taubman Malls. Learn more about the company here.


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August 2011

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Hi Paul, long time no speak. Don't know if you remember me, we worked together at NPR with Jackie Nixon.

Beefing upstream marketing, encouraging cross selling, increasing revenue productivity, implementing growth budgets, opening up communiations and making innovation part of everyones daily are all noble deeds, these are great intentions but if leaders are not using the right measures, these are a receipe for heroics and burnout.

In my experience, the folks at GM and Ford work harder and in many cases were smarter than their counter parts at Toyota. The real difference was not the quality of people, their sales and marketing efforts, or communications or even their ability to innovate, the difference was, is and will always remain the intelligence built into the system of work and exercise of the right metrics.

IBM had the best sales people, marketers, operational guru's and productivity experts in the world working for them, but Dell was able to send them packing with their heroic tail between their worn out legs out of the PC market because they had a smarter system of metrics and management.

SouthWest Airlines has done this to Delta, USAir and AA. Wal-Mart did it to K-Mart and Sears (and now Target is doing it to them!).

The only reliable and sustainable way to transform the business model and thereby ensure the required growth in audience numbers that will serve as a magnet for advertising dollars is to ensure three back to basics fundamentals are in place.

These are: a) clear vision of purpose tied to qualified and latent needs in the market or communities being served, b) Transparency of value streams from needs-to-cash and c) the leadership fortitude and capability to visibly stay on top of and sustain a) and b)through all the self doubt, barriers and resistance to change.

If leaders persist in using the wrong measures and spend their time doing the wrong work they will only ever get hard earned results through the heroic school of hard knocks, eventually a smarter system will put them out of commission.

Kashmir Birk

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