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He saw everything, but he wasn’t the right person to tell it.

The terrorists were on their way by helicopter to the airport. They were accompanied by eight hostages. When the helicopters landed on the tarmac next to the plane that would take the terrorists and hostages out of the country, the police intervened.

It was not an exemplary raid, as it soon became clear. A firefight broke out between the terrorists and the police. The police force was not sufficient to quickly neutralize the threat to the hostages. Both parties had automatic weapons, so there was a lot of shooting at each other.

Unfortunately, it all ended in disaster, with all eight hostages killed.

He saw everything

75 meters from the fighting, sports journalist Tommy Engstrand is watching. He crouches behind his car, together with a colleague and the driver. It had gambled that this was the airport where the terrorists would fly to in their helicopters. They had taken the right gamble.

And now they were the only eyewitness to the resolution of this hostage drama. Thanks to the distance, they had a very good overview of the situation.

Tommy eventually left the area in the car they had arrived in. With a mixture of shock and excitement at what they had seen, they stopped as soon as they could at a place that had a telephone. It turned out to be an atmospheric pub, where Tommy quickly borrowed a phone from the bar.

He called the editorial team at Swedish Radio to report what he had seen. There his report was recorded and taken to be broadcast on the radio news. But Tommy’s testimony was never broadcast.

The person at Swedish Radio who received the recording before broadcasting was the head of the editorial department. He objected that the report came from a sports journalist. It was not possible. News should be delivered by news journalists and nothing else. Therefore, the recording was put aside.

– What are you writing about Matts? Yes, it is about the terrorist attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Not a news journalist

Here, Swedish Radio had a unique testimony from an eyewitness to the whole event. However, the head of a newsroom chose not to broadcast it, as the viewer was not of ‘proper rank’. The manager in question is no longer alive, so according to the podcast I listened to, it has not been possible to find out exactly how and what he was thinking in this situation.

What emerges, however, is that it was quite clear that it was not appropriate for a sports journalist to convey a story of this kind.

It was therefore more important that the right type of person performed the act of reporting than that it was the right and good report.
It was more important to keep the internal order where news is delivered by news journalists, and no one else, than for listeners to get a great story.

Swedish Radio had a goldmine in the form of this report. No one else in the world had seen what happened. While the discussions at Swedish Radio were going on about not broadcasting this, the rest of the world’s media incorrectly reported that all the hostages had survived and that the police operation was successful.

It was therefore even more important that internal order was maintained in the radio house than that the world news got out.

Why are we doing this?

I see this nonsense in lots of businesses:

  1. Where it’s more important for a person’s ego or a department’s pride that they are the hero or heroes, rather than someone else.
  2. You would rather see a service fail or not be as good as it could be than allow someone else to do it or perhaps take the credit for the delivery.
  3. They would rather not do anything that benefits the business as a whole, unless they also share in the profits. It doesn’t make sense that Department A would incur a cost to improve the flow, which then has a much more positive effect on Department B.

This is a clear example of inside-out thinking, where you start from yourself and think first and foremost about what is good for you.

We need to think differently

The alternative is outside-in thinking, starting from what is good for the whole and for the customer, and then adapting yourself accordingly.

Having an outside-in mindset is demanding, but also rewarding. Even if it does not come to you immediately, but after a while, or it comes to someone else in the business.

What is the situation in your business? Do you have more of an inside-out approach or have you developed an outside-in approach?

There is now a chance to take a giant leap for you and your business. We are starting a new round of the two training courses Certified Improvement Manager and Certified Business Designer. They run in parallel, as much of the content is the same between them. The first, for Improvement Leaders, contains even more knowledge such as how to drive the improvement initiative itself.

Find out more and apply for the upcoming training by clicking on the links to the two trainings that suit you best.

Certified Improvement Manager

Certified Business Designer

If you have any questions, you are always welcome to contact me and I will answer to the best of my ability.