Getting to Yes, And

Tony Hunter: Embedded Innovation


Tony Hunter

Subscribe on

Kelly reconnects with an old friend from his days leading The Chicago Tribune, Tony Hunter, who is now the CEO of The McClatchy Company.

You’ve written about the fact that leaders need to be conscious of their ‘talk to action’ ratio? Tell us about that.

“So let's talk first about the bias for doing versus the bias for talking. We've all been there right? You walk into the conference room, you go into the meeting, and it’s just talk for 30 minutes - if you're lucky  - and then, at the end somebody will say that was a great meeting, why don't we get back together next week and talk about this again? Or, people just come into meetings and they just want to talk about what's wrong with the idea that was presented.  And what I've learned is rarely do you get it right the first time. But by doing something, and moving the ball forward at a minimum, you're going to fail forward, you're going to learn, but standing still in today's world means you fall behind.”

So in all this disruption during COVID, you haven’t been cutting jobs at McClatchy.

“This issue of disruption, to me, gives you an opportunity to rethink where you make your bets, to rethink how you take the core competencies you have and use them differently. But a lot of times in disruption, everybody plays defense = and we're talking a lot about this at McClatchy. You know my theme this year is to expect to win. You can't play defense. So I think you just need to step back, look at what you want to double down on and what you should not be doing. To me that's more important than right-sizing the company. Get out of the things you shouldn't be doing, focus on the value drivers, double down and double down on people.”

I also like how you simplify the idea of what innovation is for everyone in your organization.

“When I  ran the Chicago Tribune, I had to demystify innovation. So I thought about it, and I said, well isn't it just injecting continuous improvement into everything you do? Meaning, do what you do today better  - that's innovative, do what you do today differently. Everybody in the company can innovate:  Everybody on the shop floor, the salesperson, the reporter. It's just about  doing what you're doing today better, and if you do that every day, that's pretty good.”

Related Episodes