tip off

@BigHarto translates Kim Williams for his former colleagues

Dear former colleagues,

Occasionally, in the small hours, when I’ve reached the bottom of a third bottle of pinot and am preparing to curl up in one corner of the climate-controlled wine cellar until it’s time for a tin of braised steak and onions and Surf Patrol, it occurs to me that retirement has robbed me of some of my sense of purpose.

I have also heard rumours that some of you in the newspaper division miss me so much that you have erected a shrine to me in the cupboard under the sink in the second floor tea room, where you leave offerings of fruit and fake Chinese money. As such, I have agreed to act occasionally in a consultancy role, as your new shitbird “CEO” settles in.

I did gently warn Rupert when he tendered my resignation that Williams has an MBA testamur where his nut sack should be.

Rupert is nothing if not headstrong, though. But he has recognised that Kim’s background as a corporate greasy pole-smoker may mean that he has trouble communicating with the troops now and then.

As such I have agreed to translate his email of Thursday last for those in newspapers, who generally speak a version of English.

Last week most of News Limited’s senior leaders from across Australia gathered so I could brief them on the views I have been developing about the issues in our company and our future priorities.”

You pricks make no money.

At the session I outlined the direction and broad governing vision for the ongoing transformation program for News Limited. I have been developing this program with the Executive Team in order to respond in a connected, appropriate, fashion to the incredibly competitive, rapidly changing world in which we all live. Our mission is to see the company prosper and thrive in that environment and to ensure it does so through adopting fresh and relevant approaches that are relevant to the needs of consumers and advertisers.”

You pricks need to start making money.

Our divisional leaders have been briefing their senior teams this week and there will be a series of communications in the next few months which will describe that transformation journey and its priorities. In the meantime I thought you might appreciate some insight into the challenges I have set for the senior leadership team.”

Arse-kickings are being administered gradually. They get worse as they go down. Those at the bottom may find themselves with nose bleeds.

There is no doubt our business model is being reshaped by truly mighty forces affecting all processes of exchange and communication in society.”

I have no f-cking idea how to make money either.

This new world brings enormous opportunity  —  if we are smart, and agile in our responses then we will flourish. We must relish the challenges we confront and drive ahead with confident responses built on close attention to consumers as our true north at all times.”

We’re f-cked.

We start from a position of strength, with a stable of Australia’s strongest media brands and as the single largest seller of advertising by value in the country. No one can match our reach; for example, we touch over six million consumers each and every week with our magnificent Sunday network.”

On the bright side we have a series of regional monopolies.

The key to our ongoing success will be seen in ensuring every one of us puts customers at the heart of everything we do. For our editorial teams, this means our consumers. For our sales teams, our advertisers, and for support functions like HR and IT, it means for our own people.”

Ramp up the t-ts and arse. I’ll have lunch with Gerry Harvey to keep him sweet.

Similarly, we must be data and outcome-driven in our planning, aiming to satisfy customers in all our decisions. We must ensure we take the right actions in the secure knowledge of where our customers’ preferences and aspirations lie.”

Did I mention that it would be helpful to sell some newspapers?

There are two important corollaries to our customer commitment and focus on data and its reflection in our results-driven planning. First, that we will provide the best quality journalism and compelling content and second, that we will invest in engaging and developing the capabilities of our people. The importance of our journalistic quest for the best, and similarly to develop our people, is self evident to our future success.”

Sorry I have no idea what that means.

We must work as one united company, delivering ever better products across a diverse range of technologies, each with different characteristics meeting different consumer needs.”

Something something internet.

Finally we must ensure we are at all times accountable for our plans and the outcomes from our actions. That accountability in pursuit of agreed objectives will be dependent on individuals stepping up to take responsibility for their own actions and the outcomes that follow from them.”

Do any of you actually do any work?

You will all have seen last week’s shared service announcements for Production, HR and sub-editing. The intention here is to allow us to achieve functional excellence in these areas whilst liberating the divisions to focus on their consumers, advertisers and communities. We have to ensure our products reflect a personality and commitment; I have described to senior executives how we must be ‘of, from, about, and above all, for the community’. Our community connections and responsibilities need thoughtful and constantly vigilant focus.”

I am going to basically send most of your jobs to India.

These priorities reflect what is required of the executive leaders and all our teams across the country: to have a laser-like focus on our customer needs and to empower each other to make informed decisions that will benefit the whole company as it undertakes a substantial change to better reflect compelling responses to our changed world.”

This seems like Williams is saying he likes Star Wars, which figures because he comes across like a virgin at at a comic convention.

In the coming weeks I will be finalising our business strategy with your executive colleagues. That process will include many elements about which we will run a regular communications program. Those elements will reflect structural changes, clearly defined business goals and commercial targets, a practical set of company values, and a substantial transformation in our systems and behaviours.”

Have you been browsing Seek? You probably should.

I am eager to ensure this transformation provides a clear road map and clarity on the objectives which underpin it, so that we can all constructively engage with it. From mid 2012 we will launch a new national intranet. It will contain helpful information, resources and tools to enable you to do your job better and feel better informed about News. The intranet will play a central role in future communications  —  hosting news about the company with executive updates which will include video messages.”

Because email isn’t irritating enough.

When the annual planning process is complete I will be going on a nationwide presentation trip to outline the business strategy directly.”

Arse kickings live, in person, nation-wide.

Clearly it is going to be impractical to visit every single one of our sites, but I will get to as many as possible.”

But not Cairns, do I look like a f-cking barbarian to you?

From next month I will be setting time aside for meetings with groups of randomly chosen staff to discuss life and work at News and to discuss things we do well and areas where there is room for improvement. I see that dialogue as being a central part of the change program. My intention is to create an open and responsive culture where constructive exchange and the search for improvement is never ending.”

Death squads, ahoy.

Everyone in the company should feel informed and engaged in this journey as it is central to our future. I will talk more about exactly what that means in my presentations and video updates which will start from April/May.”

Quivering obedience may improve your chances of survival.

A key message I left the leadership team with last week is how genuinely honoured I am to be here to lead the process of addressing the many substantial challenges we confront. I am reinforced in that view in having the knowledge that we have such strong committed leaders and team members across Australia. Frankly I wouldn’t swap this role or the challenges it provides for anything else!”

There is a reason I make much more money than you: I am in charge.

As ever, your thoughts or comments are welcome, so please do not hesitate to send an email with any feedback or suggestions for consideration as we enter a remarkable era which will reflect renewed energetic devotion to our customers with continuing commitment to innovation in the diverse products we produce.”

My PA has an email filter set up that sends emails with certain negative keywords in them directly to trash.

With every good wish,”

Go f-ck yourselves.

5
  • 1
    zut alors
    Posted Tuesday, 21 February 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Big Harto, your ability to precis the corporate-speak of KW is sharp and spot on. The ‘CEO’ deserves his own chapter in Don Watson’s next edition of ‘Weasel Words’.

    But did he really (really?) write:

    …our journalistic quest for the best…’

  • 2
    Posted Tuesday, 21 February 2012 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    +1 to the Weasel Words update. Methinks ‘laser-like focus’ should get special (dis)honourable mention…

  • 3
    Posted Tuesday, 21 February 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Nobody, save perhaps your local shop worker who knows you personally, is “devoted” to customers. Everybody in corporate-speak land is “devoted” to taking money out of your pocket.

    I challenge Kim Williams to state publically, on behalf of News Ltd., that he prefers having happy customers to making more money.

  • 4
    Paul Butler
    Posted Wednesday, 22 February 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    As many have noted already, so much corporate crap speak, but also a 3rd Grade teacher would correct this passage: “…adopting fresh and relevant approaches that are relevant…” What about “adopting fresh and relevant approaches that are fresh”?

  • 5
    Kevin Tyerman
    Posted Wednesday, 22 February 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I challenge Kim Williams to state publically, on behalf of News Ltd., that he prefers having happy customers to making more money.”

    In theory making customers happy should equate to them being faithful to a brand, and thus making more money. It may not be a preference, but it could have an equal bearing.

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