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Media houses around the world are struggling to make ends meet. Organizational Development offers methods to find new solutions and blends well with other approaches to achieve more financial success.
Systemic thinking, process consulting, participative approaches: Organizational Development, or OD, comprises different techniques aimed at achieving organizational change. It is becoming a more and more important aspect of the business development strategy of media outlets across the globe. "Organizational Development is connected with media viability. A media organization cannot be viable if it's lacking organizationally," says Liana Khachatryan, a media consultant from Armenia.
OD helps media outlets to look at their organizational structure and culture in a different way, not immediately providing solutions but asking questions. This is to help management and staff to take a step back and reflect—as experts in their own right. Challenges tackled that way can be related to internal information flows, project designs, conflict resolution, or other processes. All this can help to make better business decisions or develop more successful products. "I learned how to formulate my questions in order to get better answers," says Daoud Ibrahim, media consultant and lecturer from Lebanon.
In many places in the Global South, innovation by media outlets ensures the quality of content while helping them to remain financially viable. These media outlets often operate under challenging economic conditions. Here and in other parts of the world, combining OD methods with a broad media viability knowledge could contribute to finding new business solutions. But media consultants familiar with the environments in developing economies are rare. At the same time, consultants from Europe or North America often lack specific knowledge about how to develop a viable business model under the challenging circumstances media outlets face in these countries.
To tackle this perceived gap, DW Akademie recently brought together 11 experienced media entrepreneurs, consultants and media managers from Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. In online training sessions from November 2020 to April 20201, the participants discussed approaches in organizational development and human-centered design, as well as different aspects of media viability. The concept of media viability—according to DW Akademie's holistic approach—comprises more than just financial sustainability. Other aspects are considered as well, such as audience engagement, quality of content, partnerships, and the overall operational environment. "I think OD and media viability blend almost naturally. Media viability seems to be the holy grail every organization is seeking for. But one cannot offer achieving this goal without knowing about OD," said one participant.
A strong focus of the program was fostering the exchange of best practices in overcoming media viability challenges from the participants’ own media outlets and consultancy experiences. "I am grateful for the opportunity to exchange experiences with people from different countries, understand what they are doing, and speak about digitalization and challenges for new media," said Hanène Zbiss, a media consultant from Tunisia.
Throughout the project, international experts from around the world facilitated a total of 13 modules. At the end of the series, the participants reflected on media viability consultancy within specific regional contexts.