Find the 'key log' and blow it up!

August 13, 2015 01:30

By Kathy Walker, RTDNA Chair-Elect
What is holding back momentum in your newsroom?

During our recent RTDNA strategic planning committee meeting in Denver, RTDNA staff and leadership were asked to look for any 'logjams' in making progress on our ability to best serve our membership. Planning facilitator Tim Daniel explained how in the late 1800s and early 1900s, timber companies would float logs down rivers to sawmills. From time to time, hundreds or even thousands of logs could get jammed up in the river, halting their progress. The preferred solution? Studying the structure of the logjam carefully, identifying what loggers called the 'key log,' (the one holding everything else back), affixing some dynamite, and well, simply BLOWING IT UP!
How does it work?  First, you have to get above the log jam to study it. Sometimes, as in the photo at left that I took this past weekend in Rocky Mountain National Park, it’s obvious which log is holding back the progress of the other logs. At other times, it takes time and perspective to find the precise log causing the logjam. It may mean you have to climb to the top of the canyon to see the problem.
Tim Daniel explained to us that the 'key log' concept is rooted in physics. He said, “It’s the interaction between potential energy and kinetic energy. Potential energy is stored energy. Kinetic energy is when it is released. The key log is the spigot which releases the stored energy. It’s the issue that, once addressed, all the other issues were waiting for that.” Once the key log is out of the way, he said, other issues find their own solutions.
So what is standing in the way of your success?
In groups, Daniel says, sometimes the thing that is in the way is the thing which brings us the most pride. Sometimes you have to be willing to blow up what has outlived its usefulness. After the key log breaks loose, there can be turbulence and maybe even chaos. But that turbulence can represent momentum. Sometimes, Daniel says, you have to choose dangerous life over safe death.

RTDNA will spend the next several months looking for logjams in our programs, and if we find them, we will work to identify the key logs and blow them up. There is tremendous momentum in our industry and in our association to find best practices, provide valuable training and networking opportunities, link our members to success, and most of all, reward and recognize great journalism. We hope you’ll join us in the climb to the top of the canyon, and help us blow up those key logs that will release our potential!