Teams and Conferences: Redesigning a Newspaper


Hartig, Dennis; Uhlfelder, Helene F.   (1997, ASQ)   Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, VA; Miller Howard Consulting Group, Atlanta, GA

Annual Quality Congress, Orlando, FL    Vol. 51    No. 0
QICID: 10618    May 1997    pp. 742-749
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Article Abstract

Continuous improvement at the Virginian-Pilot daily newspaper has led to new strategies while dealing with resistance to change. Teamwork and the conference methodology have been keys to this success. The first phase of continuous improvement at the newspaper had a positive impact, but it was viewed by some as a fad. The second phase was introduced as a team-based management (TBM) initiative. It aimed for improvements in areas like: advertiser and reader satisfaction, newsprint waste, and on-time delivery. Among the first departments to be trained in TBM was the newsroom. Some newsroom teams began to apply TBM, but most resisted the initiative and many did not understand the newspaper's vision. The vision was clarified once the program leadership team developed an overall strategy for the newspaper and established four supporting strategies. Conference methodology then was used to implement the strategies and to prevent or lessen resistance. Among the 200 participants were managers, newsroom personnel, and customers. The four conference sessions covered: vision; work issues; narrowing of project choices; and recommendations for the chosen projects. Among the recommendations were these: newspaper coverage should reflect stakeholder needs; usefulness is the standard for some stories, while mastery is the standard for others; teams should be restructured to implement strategies like expertise in local news. Implementation of the recommendations has just begun, and already there are improvements in common understanding, accuracy, circulation, and continued control of newsprint costs.


Case study,Continuous improvement (CI),Teams,Vision,Cultural change

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