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5 Tactics of Digital Media Intrapreneurs

#CollabNYC convened digital creatives to discuss a spate of recent projects, from Vox's Card Stack content design, to Quartz's opensource ChartBuilder, to New York Times' Streamtools for visualizing live data feeds. Also featured: Ashoka, Facebook, Wall Street Journal, NPR, NY Daily News, and WFMU.


  1. It quickly became clear through the improv warm up activities, presenters that transparently led with challenges they were encountering, and constructive questions, that everyone in the room at #CollabNYC on July 8, 2014 came ready to, well, collaborate! A feeling  echoed through conversations of "Wow, I'm not the only one struggling to do X in my organization" followed by an eagerness to swap tactics. 

  2. While the organizations varied widely, from the Wall Street Journal celebrating its 125th year in print on the day of this event, to the 2-ish month lifespan of, certain challenges received many knowing nods.  Convincing others to embrace a new idea, determining which metrics and tools best indicate how a new approach is working, and adapting to an increasingly mobile-first media landscape were among the widely familiar challenges discussed. Fortunately, the individuals in the room were a creative, savvy bunch equipped with a hefty dose of humor, leading to an assortment of compelling, and sometimes zany ideas (energizing SuperTea in an edible tea cup, anyone?).
  3. 1) Innovation spreads throughout an organization when others beyond your team "get it"

  4. The Atlantic's Jennifer Lau jump-started the conversation of how to innovate in an established organization that faces inevitable silos. One key takeaway: casual socializing between groups can go a long way!
  5. Recognizing the right circumstances to demonstrate a new approach can make a big difference, too. At the Wall Street Journal, World Cup coverage was seized as an opportunity to create a completely new, far-less-clunky system for managing content...
  6. 2) Being on the leading edge requires education outside - and inside - your organization

  7. When the project or idea is technically complex and the use case isn't clear, getting buy in is extra tough. Sometimes (especially when you are far out front, breaking from today's norms) others just don't get it, both inside and outside your organization. New York Times' Mike Dewar opened up about the difficulties of getting individuals even in his own organization to figure out how to use what his team considered a pretty straightforward tool (although even the techie crowd of #CollabNYC was taken with the sophistication of what Dewar's team is trying to do).
  8. In one of Brian Reich's many well-stated reactions to each speaker, he acknowledged the average individual's need to see a direct application of a technical capability to really perceive it as "useful." While the data scientists on Mike Dewar's team get giddy about the various potential applications of a resource like StreamTools because they are intimately knowledgeable about its core functionality, other mere mortals need a narrowed down explanation of just a couple ways in which the technology can be applied to issues they face in their daily lives.