Usa Today: Pursuing the Network Strategy

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1) The “network strategy” is CEO Tom Curly’s vision to integrate USA Today’s three main business units or media channels: Newspaper, Online and TV. The Online unit currently operates independently with their own sources of news content, editing, production and distribution. Tom Curly believes that by integrating the three channels they can better leverage the USAT brand as well as its news gathering, editing and distributing capabilities across the multiple channels. The success of this strategy is based upon the assumption that the three units, 1) have some overlap of target customers that would find value in the same news content, 2) have systems and processes that align with each other and enable the sharing of news content and 3) be willing and receptive to the integration from a social and cultural aspect. According to Bolman and Deal, the challenge that Curly faces, how to allocate work (differentiation) and coordinate the work across the different roles (integration), is a prominent organizational design issue that most companies face.

2) Numerous barriers exist to implementing the network strategy. The company in general, including the senior leadership, seems very resistant to significant change due to the costly failures of past efforts. In addition most of Curly’s leadership team is not even acknowledging the impending digital revolution. Convincing employees to head down this road of organizational change would take a great deal of hand-holding. Another major barrier is that the attitudes and personal desires of the Online and Newspaper group conflict with the network strategy as a whole. The Online group and Newspaper group clearly do not want to integrate. Their cultures, operations, processes and leadership are very different and do not mesh well together. For example the Online channel works feverishly to update their content every two minutes, while the Newspaper unit works independently to meet daily news deadlines. Therefore, it would be...
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