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LEAKED: CBC's Digital Strategy and Employee Q&A by Jesse Brown

Jul 8, 2014

Source: Canadaland

CANADALAND has obtained internal CBC documents illustrating how the organization is dealing with employee tension, rage and confusion.

  • Here is CBC News' "Digital Mantra", also titled "CBC Digital Strategy in 3 Slides" (link)
  • Here is management's attempt to answer questions submitted by employees following last month's employee town hall (link).

The CBC work atmosphere has by all accounts hit a new low since the town hall, where employees hoped to learn whether or not they would be keeping their jobs. Instead, they were forced to endure President Hubert Lacroix's "Vision 2020" unveiling, a smokescreen of digital futurism bafflegab that obscured the painful truth, that 1500 unspecified positions will be eliminated over the next 5 years. While each employee waits to find out if they're getting the axe, they are expected to internalize and execute the CBC's "digital mantra", which will result in news content designed for phones and tablets, somehow (it has to do with "pillars" and "planks").

A couple of brave (doomed?) workers actually piped up to demand Lacroix's resignation for running the whole enterprise into the ground (he refused) and the whole affair was hustled to a premature close as questions were still being hurled at the stage.

Employees were assured that all queries would be answered if submitted via email. The results of that process have since been posted to the CBC's iO! employee intranet and then leaked to CANADALAND.

The full document is a slog of mendacious, obfuscatory doublespeak. So, for your reading pleasure here are the

TOP 5 BAFFLING BITS OF CBC MANAGEMENT JIBBERISH

1. "The strategy is a plan, not a blueprint."

Those are just synonyms.

How about: "the scheme is a gambit, not a ploy" or "the excuse is a justification, not an alibi"?

Take into consideration the context, and it's even more angry-making. Here's the employee question it purports to answer: "If you don’t have any specific, concrete numbers about how this will impact us, why are you sharing the strategy?" In other words: you still haven't told us who's getting fired, so why are you bothering us with this digital future horseshit? Why? Because this isn't a blueprint, people- just a plan. We call it a strategy.

2. "We are keeping incentive-based compensation for managers...to provide an accountability framework to drive the successful achievement of the Corporation’s annual objectives"

....and that's why your boss will still be getting her bonus while you're getting shit-canned. Amazing how management types needs incentives beyond their generous salaries to achieve their goals. Everybody else is expected to do their job because it's their job.

3. "We are in the content business, not the infrastructure business."

This lies at the core of the lie. The Vision 2020 plan appropriates the media-exec mantra of the moment: that progressive shops are all about content, cuz the game is no longer about having the most powerful transmitters, the widest network, or the biggest pipes. Let us all be "device agnostic", let us simply create the best product out there and the people will gobble it up on whichever screen or gadget they choose.

If backed by deed, that would actually be a plan. The CBC could shed massive amounts of legacy costs by selling off its TV infrastructure entirely. Without channels across the country to technically maintain and fill with content, the Ceeb could focus instead on quality, nimbly creating only as much video as it needs and wants to, then providing it as streaming video and through podcasts and through a Netflix-like app. But that's not the plan. The actual plan is the opposite: the CBC plans to get out of original video content production entirely, news and current affairs excepted, and buy content from outside production companies. They will then become a middleman, using public funds to buy privately-made content, which will then be broadcast over their public infrastructure. They are actually doubling down on infrastructure and abandoning content production.

4. "As the strategy takes shape, there is the need to challenge and rethink the organization design to ensure that the structure, roles, people, processes and reward systems support and enable the overall plan."

This is less than meaningless, and seems little more than a dodge to the posed question:

"How will CBC work to attract and keep younger / new workers with skills in these fields amongst layoffs that will again ensure that employees with the longest seniority are kept employed, regardless of their abilities to work in digital spaces?"

Or: how does the CBC intend to become such a hip digital company when union rules make sure that younger workers will be the first ones to get laid off? Those with the most seniority reserve the right to "bump" newer hires, even when it means axing someone with digital skills from a digital position and replacing them with an older and more expensive worker who must then be trained. This literally results in 50-year-old video editors trying to write code and getting paid six figure salaries to stumble through it.

5. "CBC’s people are our most precious resource."

This smug nugget is management's response to employee outrage over being invited to ask questions about a strategy they were given access to a mere hour before the town hall occurred, and which contained little hard data about where the axe will fall. The whole enterprise of unveiling an exciting new plan for the future as it sheds hundreds of jobs shows the CBC's workers just how precious they really are to management. It's like telling your girlfriend all about the awesome new apartment you'll be moving into after you break up with her.

© Canadaland