Voyages into the unknown.

How much can you get done in twenty weeks?

I’ve been director of the European Journalism Centre for twenty weeks now, or 140 days.

That’s about one-and-a-half times as long as the first Sputnik spaceflight. It’s about two times as long as Columbus’ voyage to America. It’s about twice as long as The Voyage of the Mayflower.

Our journey doesn’t quite match the epic proportions of any of those. But against the markers I’ve set myself, progress is being definitely made.

But is it enough?

Back in March, I shared the following goals with the team for the ensuing three months. Heading into May, it’s time to check back in.

Goal 1: Get organisation running at full efficiency

The definition of “full” here is definitely open to interpretation, but if you look at what we wanted to do, we score well.

  • Rollout new teams and roles
  • Define working budgets with each team
  • New laptops and finance software
  • Hold career planning with every member of staff
  • Improve Grants application process

We’ve evolved the team structures minimally to align them with financial reporting and strategic goals, and have begun to create greater autonomy in the teams by giving them control over budgets, working hour allocation and — shortly — invoice management.

That’s underpinned by new finance and grants management software, plus new laptops — though none of those are yet fully operational.

Career planning has begun, but we’ve been a little underwater with the amount of projects we’re running right now. Calmer seas lie ahead, so we will be stepping that up, and I need to bring more clarity to teams and roles further. Training will provide the foundations for increasing autonomy further in the teams. Crucially, those who want to take initiative on ideas and partnerships now can.

Goal 2: Generate new business short and long term

Some sensitive commercial stuff here that I can’t share, but overall we’re doing better than our January predictions. The goals we laid out were:

  • Define Learno + Data partnerships and strategies
  • Partnerships with [redacted]
  • 2017 strategy roadshow
  • Complete fundraising strategy for 2018 revenue

All predicted income arrived, with a couple of new partnerships in the pipeline that will yield small financial returns, but are strategically significant. You’ll hear about those soon. I’ll be presenting a 2018/2019 fundraising plan to the board in a few weeks.

Goal 3: Promote EJC out into the world

In May and June, I’m in European countries (other than Belgium and the Netherlands) ten times in eleven weeks. This is important for connecting us to the European journalism landscape.

Things we wanted to achieve, that we have delivered on in the past 10 weeks alone:

And the things that are incoming:

  • EJC rebranding
  • Push new Learno video training series online

And it’s the rebranding that’s key there. We’re close to pushing our tone and voice guide into the public realm, and our new logo and visual identity will follow shortly after.

That new identity should tie together our financial, strategic and culture goals. In other words, who we are and where we want to go.

At that point, it’s no longer a voyage into the unknown.

You can get involved in this process. Firstly, help us out with some of our social strategy.

Secondly, join us for News Impact in Rome on May 23rd, or Hamburg on May 31st for Journalism Funders Forum. See you there!