There’s an old joke that management consultants like to tell:
Q. What are the seven words that will destroy any successful organization?
A: But we’ve always done it that way.
Even student media — with its transient staffs and “underground” ethos – fall prey to the tendency to resist change. It can be very difficult for young people — even the creative, forward thinking ones who tend to populate student media outlets — to drastically alter systems that they’ve been taught. That’s why it’s essential for student media leadership, whether students, faculty or staff, to create an environment where systemic change is not just permitted, but encouraged.
At WPTS Radio, we do an exercise at least once a year called “Sacred Cows.” It’s basically an opportunity for our board of directors to question and challenge the most basic parts of our operation. Beyond that, all directors are reminded throughout the year that they should be examining every process in their departments to make sure they are still represent best practices.
Honestly, after doing this for more than a decade, we don’t make major changes that often. But the process remains vital. It often leads to fixes of smaller problems that make us more efficient and effective. And it creates a culture in which creativity and assessment are respected and expected, which benefits both our media outlets and the students who work in them.