"I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that don't work." Thomas Edison
How important is innovation? And is it okay to fail? Douglas Arellanes started the second day of Sourcecamp, our annual meet-up, with these very questions. Locked away at a secret Brandenburg hotel, our team came together to try and find answers with a full day of unconferencing.
Innovation, as defined by Eric Ries in the Lean Start-Up, "should be understood broadly... novel scientific discoveries, repurposing an existing technology for a new use, devising a new business model that unlocks value that was hidden, or simply bringing a product to a new set of customers. In all these cases, innovation is at the heart of the company's success."
Innovation is at the heart of everything we do. You've read the doomsaying blogs and the 'future of…' articles. If you've found this post, chances are that you know media is a rapidly changing sector, with uncertain revenues and a changing role. Our success relies on building tools for independent media that are not just innovative in themselves, but also tools that allow news organisations to become innovative.
Our newly-modelled innovation department will have four key areas of focus.
New products. Working out new, interesting and useful ways to package our technologies.
New proof-of-concepts. We're always looking for new applications of new ideas, like our African News Innovation Challenge finalist project Citizen Desk.
New revenue models. The innovation department is also responsible for finding new ways to achieve sustainability.
New users. Bigger community = more users = better projects for everyone. Simple.
When innovation is such a core part of our mission, it makes sense that the Communications team sits within this department. Both internally and externally, we're always looking to improve the way we communicate.
But who do we communicate to? Our community is made up of cross-sections of users (journalists, broadcasters, writers), makers (developers, implementers, hackers), and talkers (influencers, technology press, social media). They all help us to further our mission and so bringing innovation and communications together will hopefully help us serve our various community's needs.
"Fail early, fail fast, fail often," says Sourcefabric co-founder Douglas in his presentation. You are media consumers, creators, owners and critics and we need your help to do this; Sourcefabric wants to hear your voice, however critical. We're moving quickly, but there's always space for reflection. Our #newsbeta newsletter is a way journalists can directly influence our coding. Our social media channels provide great forums for letting us know if we're moving in the right direction or not.
It's a sentiment championed by the Innovation department's new director. "Develop rapidly," says Douglas Arellanes to close his presentation, "because you never know which solution will work."
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