The Reason Why NBC Sucks So Bad: 4.24
Want to know the exact reason why NBC is in such trouble?
In an acronym: GE
Surprise! A corporate overlord is messing things up. Who would've thought?
There is a surprising thing, though. It's that this time, it isn't really Jeff Zucker's fault.
So how is The Man screwing things up this time? By destroying every creative instinct in the entire company.
Hey everybody, meet Six Sigma, the worst corporate philosophy for a media company in history of corporate philosophy. Allow me to summarize Six Sigma: constantly improve little things through a rigorous system of "eliminating defects."
If you want to actually read more about this idiocy, I just changed the Wikipedia page on it to make it more objective. (before, it read like a press release for the system) But here's the (unchanged by me) money quote from the "Definition" section:
And okay, yes, I couldn't resist making my own comments on the definition, which are in bold.
"Six Sigma has now grown beyond defect control. It can be defined as a methodology to manage process variations that cause defects, defined as unacceptable deviation from the mean or target;(aka-People who use drugs) and to systematically work towards managing variation to eliminate those defects.(and by "defects", we mean anyone who is imperfect by our corporation's standards) The objective of Six Sigma is to deliver world-class performance, reliability, and value to the end customer." (The "end customer"? Ewww.)
So why doesn't Six Sigma work in entertainment? Because the only way to survive in the entertainment industry is to constantly innovate, create and change. (Otherwise, you get boring) Unfortunately while it may not sound totally antithetical, Six Sigma in practice is the enemy of independent/creative thought.
Oh sure, it purports to be a theory that offers the promise of tiny innovations every ever-lovin' day. But in a nutshell, here's why it's totally screwing NBC:
BECAUSE YOU DON'T MEASURE SITCOMS BY THE SAME MEASURES YOU DO LIGHTBULB MANUFACTURING!
Do you people realize I'm a 24-year-old with no formal business education- yet I can tell you with absolute certainty that the philosophy guiding one of the largest companies in the world is costing them BILLIONS OF DOLLARS! And yes, I know this is hubris, but it's also accurate. I would like to point out this Business Week (the business magazine for people who can't afford The Economist) article detailing current GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt's plans. It mentions NBC once. And it includes a terrorist attack in the same paragraph. Not good.
Please, for the love of money, GE! Please spin off NBC/Uni so they can get back to the business of catering to everyday idiots instead of overpaid ones who micromanage what they can't seem to grasp.
I know that GE doesn't actually use quite the same standards to measure NBC as it does in its lightbulb factories. But the problem is that the execs who are in place- and seemingly, the ones who are rising- are absolutely Six Sigma-d. The few creative people left in the NBC camp are marginalized or forced to conform to Six Sigma standards.
But if NBC/Uni is going to conquer the world like the media giant it could be, the execs need to de-emphasize (read: end) Six Sigma in the entertainment units. Like, right now. Otherwise, NBC could find itself in the previously-unimaginable position of fifth place. So get crackin', Zucker. Protect those creative types or you could find yourself peddling more "Friends" spinoffs and CSI rip-offs.
Screw you, GE!
I'm not a superstar partially because of you!
TECHNORATI TAGS: GE, General Electric, NBC, Jeff Zucker, Six Sigma, Corporations, Jeffrey Immelt