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Newspaper Next: A blueprint for transformation

Newspaper Next (N2) was a forward-thinking project undertaken by API beginning in 2005 to identify and test new business models for newspaper companies. The project is no longer active, but many of its lessons and tools are still applicable today.

N2, through its research, publications, workshops, and seminars, introduced the concept of disruptive innovation, showed how it affects the newspaper industry, and highlighted how the industry can use it to capitalize on new opportunities. By following the N2 Innovation Method, newspapers can build sustainable innovation capacity into their ongoing operations. The N2 Game Plan is a strategic framework to help newspaper organizations find sustainable new growth by building new audiences and developing new revenue streams while maximizing core products, and by reorganizing in order to foster ongoing innovation and new product development.

In 2006, API first delivered its findings to the industry in the publication: “Newspaper Next: Blueprint for Transformation.” This publication first introduced the industry to the N2 Innovation Method and the N2 Game Plan. In February 2008, API published “Newspaper Next 2.0: Making the Leap Beyond ‘Newspaper Companies’.” This report sought to give the industry a vision of what newspaper companies can and must become through case studies of products and innovations launched by the N2 method.

Newspaper Next is about recognizing the threats (disruptive innovations) and using that understanding to turn those threats into opportunities. It provides a new way of identifying opportunities and finding success, such as focusing on non-consumption and “jobs-to-be-done.” It emphasizes the value of fast, effective development and testing of new-product ideas, and the importance of building innovation capacity into every newspaper organization.

Here are the reports and worksheets from the N2 project:

Newspaper Next: Blueprint for Transformation
Published in 2006, this report provides newspaper companies with the strategic framework, tools and processes they need to move into new roles of civic service and business opportunity. The publication first introduced the industry to the N2 Innovation Method and the N2 Game Plan.

Disruption Innovation Barometer
Even well-run, market-leading organizations tend to struggle with disruptive change because the assets that serve them so well in extending their core business stand in the way of success when the industry changes. This tool helps organizations gauge their readiness for disruption.

Jobs to be Done: Interview for Consumers
Many companies unintentionally limit themselves by focusing on improving the attributes of their products, or seeking to understand different demographic segments of their customer base. Understanding the jobs that customers care about but can’t adequately get done with existing products can point to new paths for growth. This tool will help provide better understanding the unmet needs of businesses.

Jobs to be Done: Interview for Businesses
Many companies unintentionally limit themselves by focusing on improving the attributes of their products, or seeking to understand different demographic segments of their customer base. Understanding the jobs that customers care about but can’t adequately get done with existing products can point to new paths for growth. This tool will help provide better understanding the unmet needs of consumers.

Jobs to be Done: Interview for Employees
Many companies unintentionally limit themselves by focusing on improving the attributes of their products, or seeking to understand different demographic segments of their customer base. Understanding the jobs that customers care about but can’t adequately get done with existing products can point to new paths for growth. This tool will help employees throughout the organization better understand and assess the needs of their customers.

Idea Resume
This simple tool helps organizations summarize an idea to create a new growth business. The “Resume” hardwires many of the core disruptive concepts such as “jobs to be done,” “good-enough solutions,” and starting simple and cheap. It is designed to be completed in 30 minutes or less, and does not require complex financial models or detailed market sizing.

N2 Opportunity Assessment System
This worksheet provides a structure to assess the strengths, weaknesses and “deal killers” of each opportunity. The purpose is to help organizations find the most crucial initiatives to test with the greatest success factors for certainty and risk.

Newspaper Next 2.0: Making the Leap Beyond “Newspaper Companies”
Published in February 2008, this report builds on its original Newspaper Next work by offering additional strategic concepts and practical guidance. It gives the industry a vision of what newspaper companies can and must become through case studies of products and innovations launched by the N2 method. It also addresses in great depth the all-too-common question: How can we monetize the Web? It provides strategies and tactics for newspapers to use to that end.

Be the Answer
This additional report, published in 2008, explores the use of integrated databases to provide answers and generate revenue. They are an essential tool in the transformation from a newspaper company to a local information and connection utility, the vision spelled out in API’s report “Newspaper Next 2.0: Making the Leap Beyond ‘Newspaper Companies’.”

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