Hey Amazon! I've Got An Idea For You!
The other morning when The New York Times arrived late with a cardboard package professing to be Google virtual reality goggles I was put in mind of a poem by Matthew Arnold: Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse.
Wandering between two worlds, one dead,
The other powerless to be born
Here we see the delicate wire walk of The Times moving into the future, while still performing in the present by delivering authentically on its heritage and storied past. When I was president of Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, the futurist firm, we used to tell Clients: Anyone can foresee the Future, the art is getting the timing right for your business. From my perspective, The Times is missing it.
I know something of what The Times is up to, because I read the paper and I know folks who work there. It is quite reasonably launched on an Odyssey to reinvent the news delivery system for the 21st century: digital, digital, digital. Last month, it passed one million digital subscriptions. Great. Well done. The Goggle goggles virtual reality initiative must have been the equivalent of a moon walk.
However: Why can’t I get my paper newspaper delivered on time? The Times inexplicably defines a late paper as delivered after 8:30 a.m. But for most people who work, I suspect 7:15 would be closer to the mark. At my house, I’m irritated if it isn’t here by 6:30 a.m. The heavy lifting today is logistics reality not virtual reality. When the paper doesn’t arrive, The Times is literally teaching me to go to my TV news channels, searching out the programs that deliver the fix I need when I need it. I don’t want the TV on in the morning, but there you have it.
The Times can gather, report, write, edit, lay-out and print “all the news that’s fit to print” from throughout the globe. It can do it daily. What it can’t seem to do is get it to my door. It’s the last mile that confounds. Maybe put the Google stuff on the back burner and ask Amazon for help?