For the past couple of hours I’ve been struggling to put a photo in this blog post. I managed it on my internal BBC blog but not on this one. Which shows you how “innovative” I am.
So when I was invited to an “Innovation day” at the BBC last month, I did a quick double take and thought “why me?”. But I always try to go to anything I’m invited to on the principle that everyone there will be cleverer than me and therefore I might learn something (and I did).
Firstly thanks for Rowena Goldman (Innovation Executive at the BBC) for inviting me. It was great to finally meet Ant Miller in the flesh and to see Rosie Allimonos again (Rosie worked on the BBC’s editorial guidelines website when she was at Illumina Productions and did a sterling job. She now works for CBBC).
I really enjoyed the day. But the key thing I took away from it was happened at the very start, when Garrick Jones outlined the principles of design (“design as a strategic weapon”).
After the Media Literacy Summit I attended the previous week it struck me that the principles and processes of design were completely opposed to the processes of policy and regulation. Try saying to someone from Ofcom or the European Commission “what you’ve got to do is fail early and fail small”. S/he will look at you very nervously and start backing out of the room. Regulators, policy makers and politicians aren’t allowed to fail at all. If media becomes more and more informed by design principles as the internet gets stronger, the gap between media and policy making about media becomes bigger and bigger.
I had fun doing our project playing around with ideas for a BBC homepage. But with other projects I found myself thinking “this is really clever, but why would anyone want to do this?”.
I am a heretic on innovation.
I think the BBC is very innovative and creative. We’ve got innovation coming out of our ears. We don’t need more innovation. We need better project management, better leadership, a functional (as opposed to a dysfunctional) work culture and a better relationship with licence fee payers.
“How does this innovation serve licence fee payers?” is the key question, which we don’t ask enough.