Podcast / Scale / Episode 10

Exploring the technology bridge between media business and journalism

headshot of Hans Bjordhal guest on episode 10 of scale

Modern technology is forming a permanent but ever-changing bridge between media business and journalism. From subscriber strategy to design, there are many facets to keep up with. Thankfully, this week we have the insightful owner and founder of Culture Foundry, Hans Bjordahl, who talks us through how that bridge was paved and how it continues to expand with new developments and solutions.

About Hans Bjordahl

Hans is the founder of Culture Foundry, a digital experience agency. They provide their clients with the expertise and insight at every layer that makes a great digital experience for websites and applications possible.

Show Notes

Welcome to the podcast “Explore the Technology Bridge Between Media Business and Journalism with Hans Bjordahl.” In this episode, Stewart Richie, the lead developer at Power by Coffee, talks to Hans Bjordahl, the CEO of Culture Foundry, a user experience design agency in the US. They delve into the impact of technology on journalism and business in the media industry, and the challenges faced by media organizations in the digital age.

Hans has a unique background in both journalism and technology. He discusses his experience with digital publishing and being the author of the first comic strip on the internet. Stewart is impressed by Hans’ experience, and they both discuss the nostalgia of the early days of the internet.

The conversation then turns to the impact of technology on the media industry, specifically how it has become a necessary but expensive bridge between business and journalism. Hans highlights how media organizations have been under pressure since the 1990s, and how the emergence of Craigslist and its free services caused a dip in enthusiasm and funding, particularly for newspapers.

They also explore the benefits and drawbacks of cultural expertise and storytelling, using their work with 24 Hour Fitness to create the 24 Life website as an example. The conversation delves into the benefits of Agile principles and carbon credits in business, and the importance of being comfortable with failure.

Hans and Stewart discuss the application of Agile methodology for media companies, and the best practices for media executives in understanding culture. They also talk about applying Agile disruption both internally and externally, and the importance of an Agile culture in social media. Tune in to this insightful podcast for more!


00:00:00   Conversation between Stewart Richie and Hans Bjordahl on Technology and Media

00:02:30   Conversation with Hans: Combining Journalism and Technology Experience

00:06:14   Heading: The Impact of Technology on Journalism and Business in the Media Industry

00:08:25   The Impact of Technology on the Media Industry

00:09:51   Exploring the Challenges of Media Organizations in the Digital Age

00:16:54   Heading: Exploring the Benefits and Drawbacks of Cultural Expertise and Storytelling

00:18:44   Heading: Working with 24 Hour Fitness to Create 24 Life Website

00:20:07   Exploring the Benefits of Storytelling for Businesses

00:25:23   “The Benefits of Agile Principles and Carbon Credits in Business”

00:27:09   Conversation on Carbon Credits, Agile Mindset, and Being Comfortable with Failure

00:28:59   Discussion on Agile Methodology for Media Companies

00:32:22   Discussion on Best Practices for Media Executives and the Importance of Understanding Culture

00:33:42   Conversation on Applying Agile Disruption Internally and Externally

00:35:15   Conversation with Hans van der Meer of Culture Foundry on Agile Culture and Social Media


It’s one of our core values at Culture Foundry is delivery. because you can have cultures at large organizations that are so process heavy, there’s no delivery out the other side of it.

And so kind of recognizing the culture you’re in and having direct conversations about that with the people who are in charge of the project and how you can bring people along to that and, and name it essentially.

And so being comfortable with failure,Agile’s a great methodology for kind of doing that in bite size chunks and learning along the way, but easier said than done, right? There’s organizations I’ve.

Agile is a good, a good philosophy for getting technology products out the door. There are good philosophy for running a company. we’ve been doing this for 12 years and it’s amazing how.

Bikes to his job sites with his tools in a cart in the back cuz his commitment to zero carbon landscaping is that, that absolute. And that’s just a great story.



[00:00:04] Stewart: Hi there, and welcome to Scale, a podcast for modern Media. I am your host, Stuart Richie, the finder and lead developer at Power by Coffee. Power by Coffee is a web and software development team focusing on technology issues facing the media Today. Scale is a podcast by how technology impacts the media and how the media impacts technology in return.

[00:00:24] Everything from ad tech and privacy to hosting and content management. We’re interested in what’s happening today, what’s happening tomorrow. And where we might end up in the future. 

[00:00:36] Welcome to our episode today. We’re really glad to have you. our guest 

[00:00:40] Hans: today is Hans Bjordahl, the C E O of Culture Foundry. Culture Foundry is a user experience design agency. 

[00:00:49] Stewart: in the US. , they do a lot of the same things we do. a powered by coffee, but with much more of a design, led focus. Mm-hmm. . And I’m gonna hand over to you. Tell us about yourself, about Culture Foundry, about your own background and how you kind of got into all of this. 

[00:01:04] Hans: You bet. So a culture foundry is 12 years old and we’ve.

[00:01:09] worked in the field, with a variety of types of companies, a lot of media companies, some entertainment companies, companies of all stripes. And so our largest, most recognizable clients would be probably the Kentucky Derby 24 Hour Fitness. you know, I know well-known brand names in the US.

[00:01:28] I don’t quite know how those t. 

[00:01:30] Stewart: UK couple 24, our fitnesses around, but I think everybody knows the Kentucky Derby. it’s in a lot of culture. It’s in movies. Everybody knows what a musco mule is kinda thing. There 

[00:01:40] Hans: you go. There you go. Everyone’s enjoyed one of those. and then also some,publications of, various stripes, magazines, newspaper, regional newspaper companies.

[00:01:49] Often. My background prior to that, is in journalism. I have a journalism degree, from University of Colorado here in the States. And, took a few steps into media and journalism, and then the technology wave really. picked me up and kind of swept me away. and so it’s the, really if I had a view of media and technology from both sides of that divide, shall we say.

[00:02:14] And I think there is a little bit of a divide there. So I spent some time, for example, at M Snbc. Helping with their, digital publishing system, creating a new one effectively from scratch, which was, quite a scale exercise, shall we say. Yeah. and then, I have a weird claim to fame.

[00:02:30] I don’t know if I mentioned this on our, Last, our intro call. I, 

[00:02:34] Stewart: I dunno what, what’s coming here. I’m excited. My 

[00:02:36] Hans: weird claim to fame is, I’m author of the first comic strip on the internet called Where the Buffalo Room. So that was, yeah, that was kind of an extension of a college comic strip. I did the, this is back in shortly after 91 when I graduated and met some technologists who were like, we wanna put your comic strip on the internet.

[00:02:54] I’m like, , and before you know it, I’m in their, sort of office basement answering email on a console from Australia thinking that was the craziest thing I’d ever seen. Yeah. And then I joined their company eventually, and that’s how I got my, got swept up into technology. That’s awesome. 

[00:03:10] Stewart: That’s really cool.

[00:03:11] I had no idea. I think I’m like a pretty old, old person of the internet, like, Mm-hmm. know the Deep Magics tell net, gopher and 

[00:03:19] Hans: yep. This is back in. Alternate. It was on Alternate the comic. Yeah, the comic was, where the buffalo room and kind of a nod to the universe of Colorado mascot, but really an eye-opening experience about I bet the power technology to just sort reach, right?

[00:03:36] You’re just like, oh my Lord. Right. Reach, could be expanded so easily and so, Of course. Yeah. That must 

[00:03:42] Stewart: be a ridiculous number of people must have seen that given the number of people online at the time. Mm-hmm. , that’s, that’s kinda thing I always think about, like people were just consuming. You could almost consumed the entire internet 

[00:03:55] Hans: at one point.

[00:03:56] Yeah. And actually I re misspoke. It wasn’t alternate. I’m thinking about the alternative new, the, alternative news syndication network. It was clarinet. We were on clarinet. I got it. It’s all coming back to me. 

[00:04:07] Stewart: the nostalgia hits hard 

[00:04:08] Hans: sometimes, doesn’t it? Yes, exactly. Because 

[00:04:10] Stewart: I, cause I’m, I think I’m probably a fair bit younger than you, but I was listening to a podcast ski recently about, the Mozilla Foundation in Nets.

[00:04:17] Mm-hmm. . I was sat there thinking like, I remember when you could use the Mozilla browser pre becoming Firefox, and I remember put, sat on a Pentium two computer that barely ran. Having got rid of Internet Explorer to use, Mozilla browser just to try and eek that little bit of extra 

[00:04:35] Hans: performance. Sorry.

[00:04:37] And there, there was a thrill to that, right? There was the fact that it felt like you had to cobble those tools together, that you almost discovered them. It almost felt like Mozilla was secret and you’d found a secret. Right? And there was a real. Thrill to kind of in, its, in a way it’s sort of the, it was such a crude interface, though.

[00:04:58] It seemed advanced at the time. That was almost part of the, part of the, I’ll use the word thrill Yeah. Of, using this to connect these pages. And I remember for, a company I worked for before I got swept up into the, the technology stuff, doing their very first website, and optimizing for Mozilla effectively.

[00:05:15] Yeah. Right. Because that was, It’s the main browser to use. You have all 

[00:05:19] Stewart: these kinda like conditional comments for like, this will just, this will just show up in ie. But Mozilla will get the, the real one, the normal version. Back in the 

[00:05:27] Hans: day, , every site was one column. Pictures, right? Text. Pictures, text, yes.

[00:05:33] Are gifts. Yeah. The whole, exactly. The whole, the whole 

[00:05:36] Stewart: shebang. Yep. but anyway, we digress. That was awesome. But, your background, like I says, is a bit of both. There’s a journalism kind of being inside and newsroom inside. Of church, for a lack of a better word. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . And then on the business side, part of mm-hmm.

[00:05:51] whatever way you kind of wanna go with which side is which in, in the US And that must give you a remarkably unique perspective because I don’t think the two crossover particularly often that 

[00:06:03] Hans: I have seen. No, it, and it’s, it’s interesting because that, that. , that crossover between the journalism side and the business side, that’s manifested for years since the beginning.

[00:06:14] Right? In media and in news specifically, and it’s often referred to, again, I don’t know if this translates, to the uk, if that’s the word, used the firewall, right? There was always this talk of the firewall between the business and, and the journalism. And that could play out nationally or it could play out more regionally, right?

[00:06:31] And so, , it’s, I’ve worked with in various forms, back in my Colorado days, I’d do an occasional column, for the Boulder Weekly and then later on help them with their technology evolution. Right. Because we were all very familiar with each other. But even at that, even at smaller scale, that firewall was,was, was really prevalent in the narrative about what the organization was about and how it was gonna run.

[00:06:52] Yeah. Technology in a way was, is is almost the third I. . It’s interesting how you bring that up, because it’s almost like technology’s kind of like a third party in that relationship because it can’t be truly firewalled from either of those. Yeah. So it necessarily has to be a bridge. but it’s often an expensive bridge.

[00:07:12] Right. And, and that can really have an effect on the, the, the, business side of the. Of 

[00:07:18] Stewart: course. Mm-hmm. , how, how, how have you seen that change over the years? 

[00:07:22] Hans: I’ve seen it. I think the primary dynamic, there’s really two dynamics at play. I would say one of the things that I’ve seen play out over the years isn’t talked about as much, in technology and media, but we’re often in a context of, media organization under pressure and under just completely unrelenting.

[00:07:42] So I was really struck in the nineties as I had one foot in the journalism realm and one foot in the technology realm, how healthy the news businesses were, right? I talked to an editor,who had worked in major papers in California and, oh my god, class member classified ads and the paper would arrive on Sunday.

[00:08:02] Thick with classified ads from an organizational perspective that stick with money. Yeah, just we had a fountain of money and it was gonna run forever. And in sort of my early journalism adventures, I did some intern work with, the local Boulder paper. The Denver paper. had sort of touch, had a touchpoint with all the, the, the local media and they were all very, very healthy.

[00:08:25] And there was the sense that it was gonna last forever. And it wasn’t complacency necessarily, but also a little bit of complacency maybe. Right. In retrospect, right? This is technology. Hey, we’re fine, we’re fine. We’ve got tons of classified ads, we’ll be fine. Three years later it felt the whole world had flipped, right?

[00:08:44] Craigslist was probably. The single greatest damaging blow to newspapers because it just hit, it was right to the reactor core, right? Of, of like where the money was made and, hey, we’re gonna do it for free. And, it’s, they’re, they could put the technology together. I’m not blaming Craigslist for, for doing this, but sort of these, the flip, it was so amazing.

[00:09:07] how fast it was. And then frankly, I don’t think, media has ever fully recovered, right? media has this curve of energy and enthusiasm and funding often where there’s big, early enthusiasm. We’re gonna, we’re gonna change the paradigm. We’re gonna, with this kind of coverage. And then, 10 years combined, there’s this almost exhaustion point, even with new media.

[00:09:28] And if you have print product, , it gets more challenging cause you have to sort of carry along the cost of that model as you go. And then you are in all these amazingly challenging no win situations, right? Do you, do you, do you, downsize your print product when it’s effectively your true flagship and there’s a tactile thing that you bring there.

[00:09:51] You know that, but if you do that, you’re gonna lose some, you’re gonna lose some readers and some loyalty, along the way. But sometimes you have to make these really hard decisions and then you can get, get this downward spiral. And so for us approaching,companies understanding their context, I think is important.

[00:10:07] Yeah. The other trajectory, right? That’s one trajectory. And I think it’s, , it’s the water right in, in which, in which, all the fish are. the other trajectory that’s more positive is that I’ve seen an ongoing if irregular, maturity in media organizations about technology. So if we go back to, I think the starting point of how media organizations viewed technology was this annoying.

[00:10:30] interesting little thing. Put the intern on it. we’ve, we’re fine over here. And then, oh my God, now, now it’s the villain, right? Because it’s really impacted our business model and then this dawning realization that, hey, we have to work with this stuff, right? This is as important as our printing press, in terms of how we’re gonna deliver the content.

[00:10:46] That revelation, that your technology solution to deliver your content. and I’m, and I say build your community, around your, what the content you’re offering is as important as your printing press and should be viewed in your budget pretty much accordingly is something that organizations are many, many years later after this flip happened really starting to embrace now some of ’em embraced it.

[00:11:12] Than others, right? The New York Times stands in the States, and I think worldwide is just an example of a full embrace of new business models, new technologies, new ways to deliver content that aren’t gimmicky but effective, that respect the reader, right? I’m a big fan of the experience they built. We haven’t worked with ’em.

[00:11:29] I wish we had done some of that amazing work that is evidenced on their pages. It’s, and, and they stand at the exemplar and we sometimes cite them for, other organizations. but you, even now, and it’s understandable because some of these organizations are under such stress that revelation never happens.

[00:11:46] Right. and some of these organizations, going bankrupt, going outta business, and not because of just this, it’s the water they’re in, right? It’s, yeah. We all make, it’s hard to make good decisions when you’re just under extreme pressure, bordering on panic. And so definitely navigating out of that world can be done.

[00:12:05] but it’s very, it’s very challenging and to come back to more of a positivity frame. We work with organizations where we view one of. Jobs is to educate them on how this can be successful. And we come to organizations that have tried to sh, tried to shoestring budget these efforts and ended up with exactly the kind of patchwork solutions you’d expect.

[00:12:25] Yeah. But all the users hate, and all the editors hate and the like. we come to some that have. Tried to go big and because it’s software, the project failed and there’s a lot of like, we could call it P T S D, post Technology Stress Disorder, about the last failed project and culture’s in our name for a reason because it’s one of our founding principles that culture is the true driver.

[00:12:46] So for us it’s really educating organizations about the culture and how an agile approach. Can both be budget friendly and progress friendly. if you’re just comfortable with a whole new way, particularly from media organization’s perspective of thinking about technology. It’s not new to us in this room necessarily, but I’m often amazed.

[00:13:04] I’m often surpri surprised, maybe not amazed that we walk into some rooms and we’re like, oh wow, we gotta. , we gotta talk about Agile and how it works and that’s kind of the first lesson that we bring. Yeah. I 

[00:13:15] Stewart: think Agile in particular is a very scary thing for a lot of, mm-hmm. music works cuz they can go, yes, we’re gonna print this many, addition or this many issues.

[00:13:25] Hans: Our print run is going to be this size for this issue and this addition and we know exactly how much that is going to cost. I think you, with Agile, you’re like, oh, I don’t know how much it’s gonna cost cuz we need to work out what we’re doing first. it’s a hard sell sometimes. I think you’ve hit it on the head.

[00:13:41] immutability is what the printing press is all about, the press check, right? Because when you’re doing more high gloss publications, there’s the press check and it’s is is the magenta just so right, because we’re gonna hit a button, we’re gonna make a hundred thousand of these and there’s no going back.

[00:13:56] And that’s a powerful cultural imprint in Agile is practically the opposite of.

[00:14:03] Stewart: Yeah. And Agile is actively making mistakes. Yeah. Not framing them as mistakes, but like, okay, we’ve done that. Now let’s, what is the next step on from that that could be better? Mm-hmm. . And it’s embracing that process of nobody knows, we can’t know because your readership is different than every other readership, and they will respond differently to X, Y, and Z based on how you have treated them in in the past.

[00:14:25] Like historical context of this relationship is so, so important. . anyway. Yeah, 

[00:14:30] Hans: but that’s a great point. And, and think about the editor mindset, right? One of the things I love about, newsrooms and editors and journalists is that getting it right matters. Yeah. And so there’s this very real aversion to getting it wrong, ever.

[00:14:46] Right? We, oh, we’re gonna issue the correction, the next issue we get, but even just getting the language right, right. Editors are a fastidious bunch. . I love ’em for it. but it makes it hard for them to sort of embrace the Yeah. We could just release a fix, It makes it hard to embrace. Yeah.

[00:15:02] Stewart: Builder don’t even need to release a fix. We can just go in and modify the language in mm-hmm. to adjust this call to action. It’s fine. Yep. It’s intentionally weird. There’s six versions of this that we’re testing to see mm-hmm. , which is gonna be 

[00:15:15] Hans: Right. Yep. Exactly. That, that itself 

[00:15:18] Stewart: is like a very. Intense mind shift for a lot of people to be like, I know we, we can just have six and work out which one is best later, but which one is be like, are we gonna miss all that revenue potential or clickthrough potential?

[00:15:30] It’s like, yeah, but it’s minor changes. It’s two or 3% at best on an mm-hmm. , 

[00:15:36] Hans: Yep. But 

[00:15:37] Stewart: I think with all this, I mean obviously across the test of time, technology can be a little bit of a dirty word within, within user media because of, some of the revenue problems, that have been caused by that.

[00:15:48] But, do you see a positive, obviously as well, that it is a renewable, new, new experiences for people new, both for the newsroom and the the consumer. Data driven journalism where the data is accessible and you can change the visualizations to, to dive in and stuff like that. 

[00:16:04] Hans: Yeah, I, I think the, the positive is that a lot of organizations are figuring it out.

[00:16:12] and I think the other thing that’s a positive, Is that, the telling your story, is no longer just the domain, right? Of mm-hmm. . These, the, shall we say, media gatekeepers. Now we, we were all in the froth about disruption early. We’re gonna, we’re gonna. Take down the gatekeepers and everyone’s gonna be a journalist.

[00:16:35] Well, that has some drawbacks as well. Right. And if you take that and extend it culturally, right, we can see that the drawbacks can sometimes be extreme. If everyone’s an expert, no one’s an expert, right? And so sort of like reac, acknowledging the value of expertise in any field, I think is in, in credibility, I think is something that’s really, I.

[00:16:54] what are the markers of that? Right? I think is one of the things that, that we can help with in terms of, of building out these solutions. but that positivity, what that reflects, I think, is there’s this inherent drive in humans to know what’s going on, to consolidate information, to present it in both data driven and narrative driven ways.

[00:17:16] And I think the most effective storytelling is where, narrative and data are deathly brought together. And it’s one of. . It’s a very hard skill, I think, in journalism to be able to do both, organizational or even individually. But I think coming back to positivity, I think organizations are figuring it out, right?

[00:17:33] And the power source for this is really just the inherent need. There’s always gonna be a need to know what’s going on in the world, going on in, in the country going on more locally. and that other positivity that I just kind of referenced is that other folks, can be fun. It can be something fun like sports, right?

[00:17:49] But you, you have all the tools now to really tell your story in a compelling, way that gets the message across that you want to get. So one year we worked with, Churchill Downs and we did this thing called Derby Stories, and we just, we. Interviewed people about what brought them to the Derby, and it’s a sunny spring festival and everyone’s in a good mood and dressed to the nines, and we just short vignettes, right, that were more photographic driven than really narrative or interview driven.

[00:18:19] But it’s just, it’s a good example of, of telling a story. We’re with 24 Hour Fitness to create a whole website, called 24 Life. That really put what 24 Hour Fitness does through more of a holistic. Frame, shall we say, we enabled the technology piece. There was a very talented internal team that did and committed an energetic, team that, would, would drive a very aggressive editorial calendar.

[00:18:44] We were raised at their pace. Yeah, sometimes, but they were telling their own story and it was a, a very positive. Story. And so everyone’s got the tools to tell those stories. It’s not just the domain of news organizations,the news organization challenges that they’ll often tell, they, they have to tell the story that, may not be independently fundable.

[00:19:01] Right? Yeah. Because it’s, here’s, here’s what’s going on with global warming, right? And everyone’s like, oh, well that’s kind of a downer, isn’t it? Right. but that’s a very important story to tell. And so it’s,but again, I keep coming back to land on this theme that. That these teams are figuring it out.

[00:19:16] One of my favorite moments is when sort of we’re able to kind of unlock that sense of like, oh wow, this agile isn’t necessarily, the getting it wrong along the way is part of the journey in technology. Just get it wrong a little bit. Right? And there’s some lessons we don’t have to reinvent. And watching that sort of, that, that realization unlock in an organization that is doing.

[00:19:41] At its core, really great work. We’re working with a, a company right now until IT launches. Probably will not mention the name, but publishes library publications, right? And we’re getting into this world of, several library publications. We understand media, we understand their drivers, but what they’re doing is, speaking to an audience of librarians and, watching them

[00:20:07] respond positively to how we can demonstrate how this can work and help them do their jobs better for the interest of books and readers and librarians, right? Is, is really, it’s, there’s this wonderful feedback loop about, hey, look what you can do with this powerful tool and look at all the good that you can do with, sort of how you bring all this.

[00:20:28] you know, connect books with readers ultimately is the overarching mission here. And for us, there’s a story to tell about how that can work. But frankly, that moment, that light up moment doesn’t happen till you get your first three or four Agile releases out and they’re like, oh, it’s in production already.

[00:20:49] Right? And so that’s like, oh, then the gears get turned in, right? Then they’re like, oh, if I bring this idea to the table, I might see it in four. in production on what we’re building here, and that’s a great feeling. It’s what gets us up in the morning. 

[00:21:03] Stewart: Absolutely. I think you’ve, you maybe touched on something that sort of float around the back of my head as well.

[00:21:09] You mean talking about the kinda like library publications and stuff like that? And particularly for 24-Hour Fitness. Mm-hmm. , there’s an adage doing the rounds. So like in 2023, every company has to be a media company. Mm-hmm. , so like 24 Hour Fitness, gyms, stuff like that. They’re not a media company, but actually, The ability to put out content, the ability to tell story, the ability to, to communicate and do so regularly and have an ongoing pipeline.

[00:21:37] More and more we see bigger brands realizing actually we need to be a publisher. We need to be a edia company. Right? We aren’t doing subscriptions list that we’re not doing ads around this stuff like it’s an ad for our own, our own brand. I know. Examples of like HubSpot and big SaaS providers buying up small marketing blogs as an example.

[00:22:00] VC firms buying up other kind of like small business startup kind of content blogs and stuff to, to put that in place. It’s all, it’s all the CM idea of like, we are helping people tell stories. In the end, they’re helping them tell the stories so they can sell their other products, but they’re also these small groups around building those communi.

[00:22:20] To kind of like engage with people and they’re never just like pure content farms. They tend to be good brands that have built an identity and built a like rabid fan that wants to, wants to consume that and continue to consume that, and those other brands are able to. Build on top of it. I just, I just think it’s an interesting place to 

[00:22:40] Hans: be.

[00:22:41] I, I think so. And it, it, and having that pillar represented in your plan, no matter what it is, I think is really important. we’re working with, and it’s, it, it was a compelling enough idea that it’s actually something that both. Trevor dod, co-founder of Culture Foundry, and myself and a third partner David Skinner, jumping into, it’s, it’s a carbon oriented venture, right?

[00:23:08] And so it’s not a tangent too much here, but the idea was, that, carbon credits, had a, they were the domain of large organizations, governments for small businesses. like ours, right? It’s sort of like, oh, how, how would I do that? Right. And not, and know it’s legit, right? Yeah. And so we created, something called Carbon Credit Card to enable that.

[00:23:30] And a key pillar of this is the content piece. It’s just demystifying this, putting glossaries together, but telling stories about, stories in microcosm can really tell larger stories about a landscaping firm in Seattle where I am based. that, the, the landscape. Bikes to his job sites with his tools in a cart in the back cuz his commitment to zero carbon landscaping is that, that absolute.

[00:23:56] And that’s just a great story. And so making sure that we have this, it’s not just about the transactional piece or the,or the, or even the design or the technology. It’s making sure getting that story out to really re, to really unlock the why of the venture. This is all going through a, a pivot right now more to, more to come on that later.

[00:24:17] But that even in its new form, that storytelling piece is a fundamental pillar. Absolutely. 

[00:24:24] Stewart: Mm-hmm. , it’s, it’s, just on the same note, like there’s a company in the uk I think they’re called Eco. Or something. Mm-hmm. like that. but it’s very much the same idea where, they want companies to come along and, use them to source carbon credits and mm-hmm.

[00:24:41] do offsets and things like that. But the way they do that is they’re able to produce company specific profile pages so that you can, as a company, document the story of your carbon credit. Great. And be like, I felt we’ve grown this many trees from this many projects because, We decided that for, every, for our qsa, for every push to a particular branch, we’ll buy, we will buy cart credits that will plant three trees.

[00:25:10] Mm-hmm. , and they’ll then allow you to, and that’s actually perfectly possible thing to do with their system. But it’s that kind of like personal storytelling that they will then pick up and use those kind of bigger brand pieces that they can go out with. It’s just interesting. 

[00:25:23] Hans: And, and carbon credits, it’s a tangent on a tangent now, right?

[00:25:27] But we could bring it back around to Agile to a degree, which is, we had our all company meeting recently. we were gonna have it in Austin, Texas. There was a big ice storm, blew up all our plans and so we went virtual. But it was a good example and. we’re gonna have a blog post coming out soon about this of just, you need to be agile as a company.

[00:25:47] Right. And in whatever your feeling we’re talking about. Agile is a good, a good philosophy for getting technology products out the door. There are good philosophy for running a company. we’ve been doing this for 12 years and it’s amazing how. After many years of doing something, the obvious suddenly dawns on you.

[00:26:04] it’s, it’s, and for us we’re like, oh, wow. We, in terms of, oh, this is our strategy last year and we had to adjust it. Well, we run the company on agile principles, right? We tried, this didn’t work, right? We tried this, it did, we did more of it right. Whole industries. I think with agile principles, carbon credits had a mo, had a, had a debut moment.

[00:26:22] It’s our solution. Then they had a reckoning where, ah, all those trees burned down. Hmm. Now what? Right. Well, we’re gonna need to keep. I, I, people are like, well, carbon credits are, they’re terrible now. Right? I, well, I guess we should just all give up and let the planet heat up, right? Nope. It’s carbon credits are a part, they’re evolving to be a part of the solution where you’re mitigation strategies you just can’t get, across to net zero.

[00:26:47] But if you’re just using them, they’re, they’re having a role, kind of taking an agile mindset approach that they’re not what they were, but they’re. A piece and you can approach that issue, that sort of reckoning with carbon credits, with a technology solution, with a company you’re working hard to build is like, oh my God, this is all wrong.

[00:27:09] Rip up the whole plan, right? And give up. Or it’s like, well that didn’t work. Let’s try this with the ingredients that did work and do a follow on release. And it’s, it’s amazing how widely applicable an agile mindset is. Absolutely. 

[00:27:24] Stewart: It’s. I suppose mindset wise, that’s more of a being attached to the end rather than the means.

[00:27:31] Mm-hmm. , like as a technical person, I can find myself very focused on the means by which we get to something. I want it to be particular way, but actually it doesn’t matter as long as we got to where. We were wanted to go, doesn’t matter how we necessarily 

[00:27:44] Hans: did it. And comfortable with failure is a hard one, right?

[00:27:48] Yeah. I’ve worked in and with a lot of organizations and they, you can go too far with that too, right? Cuz you wanna maintain accountability, but being comfortable with failure, you’re like, oh yeah, yeah. , we’re comfortable with failure. Well, I don’t try your first one. Right? Tell me how it tastes.

[00:28:03] Right. And it’s, it’s not fun. Failure isn’t fun. And so being comfortable with failure,Agile’s a great methodology for kind of doing that in bite size chunks and learning along the way, but easier said than done, right? There’s organizations I’ve. In and with, right. It you probably as well.

[00:28:22] Right. that are paralyzed by the notion of failure. and so getting over that hump is not to be,discounted. It’s a, it’s a challenging thing to do. 

[00:28:31] Stewart: Yeah. And I think, at the same time, it’s, it’s a position to ultimately be respected because who knows? That, sourcing organization is in, like, maybe this is their last chance, Mm-hmm. , maybe they cannot feel, because this is it. Like this is the last, the last rah, the last chance. And that’s, that information changes how you do the approach, I suppose, because you step back and go while we need smaller releases, so we can be, take smaller bets on each one, kind of.

[00:28:59] But yeah, it’s, yep. Not without its merits. 

[00:29:02] Hans: and, and it’s, and I’ve seen it expressed as, one person in organization we worked with, years ago. It’s fear of getting off the whiteboard because then you’re gonna have to commit and then you might be subject to criticism. Right. And this was back in, It was more of a waterfall ish approach, shall we say.

[00:29:22] But, it’s, it was, it’s just an interesting dynamic to observe and agile helps, helps enable that, right? By making those smaller, more incremental bets. But, if this great idea that we’re gonna invest, lots of money and team into, once it’s off the whiteboard, we’re committed. And if you take more of a waterfall approach to.

[00:29:42] It’s a big bet and if it’s wrong, you’re outta runway. Yeah. And so that was, I think one of the thing, Agile’s a great, I’m turning into this complete agile evangelist in this call more than I started. Right. But it’s, it’s just a great antidote for that problem, shall we say. Yeah. 

[00:29:57] Stewart: I mean, with, with that in mind,To bring it back to, to medias.

[00:30:01] Yeah. where do you think is a good starting point for a media company looking to get comfortable with Agile, whether that’s within content or technology or in, in the business side? I know you’ve got, obviously experience across all, all places. So if you had a museum or just a full publishing brand, it’s like, okay, we’re looking to move more agile and Bris agile, whatever that means.

[00:30:26] where’s, where do they start? What’s a good, easy place that, that you think 

[00:30:30] Hans: a good, easy place is to start small and which is, which is a good message and sometimes a surprising one, right? To organizations, they’re like, oh, I thought you would wanna maximize this engagement size. Now start small.

[00:30:42] Right? Let’s prove it with, let’s say we have a monolithic, application serving our content. Well, let’s go create the soccer blog right. Or the, the, the sub-site. Let’s do something small where even by virtue of the budget right, that risk of failure is lowered so that we’re all kind of comfortable figuring it out as we go.

[00:31:05] Yeah. And, and then sort of what’s the, what’s the counter-argument to, to Agile is that it’s the Wild West and you’re never going anywhere and you’re just going in a big circle. , sort of showing them that if you have sort of a, a, a good strategic North star for what you’re trying to do, right?

[00:31:21] We’re trying to deliver soccer content and we’re trying to, oh, I’m definitely being American now, aren’t I, football content. And, we’re trying to, and, and we’re trying to create a community around that, right? If you have clarity of what you’re trying to do and you’re putting all your things through that, and then you can show early success, I think that’s a.

[00:31:40] a great way to, counter healthy skepticism, right? The other thing about media organizations, at least journalism centered ones, this is what we love about journalists. They are skeptics. They don’t believe any of your bs, right? That’s their job, right? And so you can’t come in and telling a happy story.

[00:31:57] You gotta show some actual results. and often the best news execs are ex journalists. And so it’s. . I think for or in media organizations, I think it’s a good way to go. And then the other one I would add to that is be be cognizant of the culture and kind of don’t, don’t discount that. And by, I don’t mean like dismiss it necessarily, but it culture is an amazing thing because, it’s,you know the old parable, right?

[00:32:22] one fish says to another fish, how’s the water today? And the other fish says, what’s. , right? I mean, that’s culture, right? Mm-hmm. . And so kind of recognizing the culture you’re in and having direct conversations about that with the people who are in charge of the project and how you can bring people along to that and, and name it essentially.

[00:32:42] Yeah. Hey, I know that, project X three years ago didn’t work out, or I know that, we’ve been on a shoestring budget for a long time and the. is, the tool is the enemy as a result. Cause it doesn’t work very well as opposed to an asset. kind of talk about that directly in the room and just when you can kind of articulate that culture and see it, I think it helps, right?

[00:33:08] With those conversations. You’re not kind of fighting against an invisible thing now you’re not gonna come in and give a big, inspirational speech and change the culture, right? It’s in the walls, it’s in the water, it’s everywhere. But that, It’s an incremental progress. Right. And nothing changes the culture, frankly, like delivery and success.

[00:33:25] Right. It’s one of our core values at Culture Foundry is delivery. because you can have cultures at large organizations that are so process heavy, there’s no delivery out the other side of it. Right. And we found that delivery. That’s a powerful, that’s a convincing delivery is a convincing thing. I’ll put it that way.

[00:33:42] Stewart: That sounds great. and then I wonder too if there’s, if org meteor, however we decide we’re gonna refer to the, the batch, who wants to trial Agile for themselves without involving a third party, just like internally almost like, okay, let’s start iterating on our own process. Mm-hmm. what you, I think, the content production flywheel of like ideation builds to this work.

[00:34:06] No. Can we edit this content? Yes. Add it back into the pipeline to come back around again. Like that whole process, I feel like is ripe for agile disruption just within an, an organization itself, like engaging any, any third party to be like, here’s a small change we can look at doing. 

[00:34:23] Hans: Mm-hmm. , what do you think?

[00:34:26] Yep, absolutely. and applying that right externally, internally, we can come in and be helpful in terms of articulating based on where we’ve seen it work historically, what will work for them. And then it can be like, you could do this with an internal team.

[00:34:42] You could do this with us. if it’s not an area where specialists in per se, that you need, you could do it with a whole different team. Yeah. If we, particularly if we resonate with your mission. Right. This is friend of mine, this sort of, yeah, I’m talking about this, the library publication company that we very much resonate with our mission.

[00:34:59] We’re just here to help. Right. And if you can apply this, in terms of how you’re gonna get it done, lane one, lane two, or lane three, or if you got a lot to get done. All three, right? Mm-hmm. , we feel we’ve been helpful, correct? 

[00:35:12] Stewart: Yeah. Awesome. Thank you very much for your, your time today.

[00:35:15] If people wanna find out more about you by Culture Foundry, where’s, 

[00:35:18] Hans: where’s a good place to live? 

[00:35:19] Stewart: to find out more about us culture foundry.com, where we’ve got, some agile development and some storytelling on our.

[00:35:25] Hans: In play, named Cultivate, and, yeah, that’s where you can learn more about us and, contact us there. Great. 

[00:35:33] Stewart: Awesome man. And for, for you, anywhere, you still on social media or are you hiding like 

[00:35:38] Hans: every Oh man, . Oh man. We could do a whole nother hour on like the mess of social media. It. I, tech promises and then tech realities.

[00:35:48] That’s a whole nother thread right now. I have retreated to LinkedIn man. It’s like it’s Twitter got weird. Twitter got weird. Facebook’s been weird for years and I’m just,I’m not throwing down political views on LinkedIn, but I’ve retreated to LinkedIn cuz it’s, congratulations LinkedIn on being the only absolutely non insane social media platform left.

[00:36:08] There’s room for new entrants in this. 

[00:36:11] Stewart: Awesome. Thanks so much again. For thanks, Stuart, and all the insight about agile culture. Ry Yeah, 

[00:36:18] Hans: thanks. Loved the love the conversation. thanks very much. 

[00:36:20] Stewart: Cool. Thanks again. Thank you for everyone for listening. Have a great rest of your day and we will speak soon. 

[00:36:27] Hans: 

[00:36:27] ​

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A modern media podcast

hosted by Stewart Ritchie

Modern technology is forming a permanent but ever-changing bridge between media business and journalism. From subscriber strategy to design, there are many facets to keep up with. Thankfully, this week we have the insightful owner and founder of Culture Foundry, Hans Bjordahl, who talks us through how that bridge was paved and how it continues to expand with new developments and solutions.

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