I consider myself a generalist at heart. I like learning new things by simply doing them. My core skills are in strategy, journalism and leadership. My most recent job combined all of them. As Head of Visuals for NZZ in Zurich, I lead a team of 18 people with very diverse skills, from design, development, journalism to video. At the surface, the team’s job is to produce and collaborate on outstanding journalism, but in order to do so, working on digital strategy is a key part. As head of a team at the forefront of transformation and as part of the newsroom leadership team, I pushed and was involved in developing and executing strategy for NZZ (more about my time at NZZ).
Strongly held views
In lieu of a more formal CV, an evolving list of strongly held views. I see it as a more accurate reflection of my career than a sequence of jobs and trainings. To me, moving forward at work means refining and sharpening my views on the topics I care about.
- A strategy isn’t complete until you’ve decided on what not to do.
- Execution is not the last mile, it’s the whole marathon. A good strategy only gets you to the starting line.
- Give people a reason to support your strategy. Fear doesn’t count.
- If nobody fights your strategy, something is off.
- Journalism, in its essence, is about helping people make good decisions in their lives.
- Fostering a culture of collaboration across disciplines is the make-or-break skill for media organisations in the digital age.
- Users value complexity. As long as you don’t hit them with it, but guide them towards it.
- Visual forms of telling stories are key to driving memberships or subscriptions.
- Diverse teams are better teams. Constantly work on your blind spots.
- Train and challenge the people in your team to make their own decisions and to flag issues they need help with.
- Spend half of your time working with the team rather than managing it.
- Regularly ask your people how they are and create an environment in which they can give an honest answer.
These views have evolved and will continue to evolve. Even though I hold them strongly, I don’t cling to them when new evidence and new experiences point another way. An incomplete list of people and other factors that have informed these views, in no particular order:
Founding an managing 78s | «Thinking fast and slow» | The annual retreat with a group of likeminded changemakers | Carolin Emcke | Working on and scaling up graphics toolbox Q | The ever inspiring (dataviz) Twitter community | Trying and failing with tagewoche.ch | Seeing colleagues and team members grow and struggle| Anita Zielina | Attending «Leading Newsroom Change» in Oxford | Being a father | Friends of mine who are growing into leadership roles at the same time as I am | curating the Weekly Filet | The daily struggle to be a good leader to my team |Countless people I worked with that made a lasting impression on me | The Journalism Festival in Perugia | Being part of a lot of well managed and even more badly managed projects | This blogpost by Juliane Leopold | Managing managers | Wolfgang Blau | Books by the Basecamp founders, especially «It doesn’t have to be crazy at work» | Lucy Küng | Hyper Island Toolbox | Hannes Gassert | Learning to code at age 30 | …