Institutions and service providers

Institutions are so large and solid that they create their own “gravitational field”.

Service providers respond to the “gravitational field” of market demand and opportunity.

Many of the crises that organizations are suffering these days flow from their need to transition from institution to service provider status.

It painful and disorienting to move from setting the rules to following the rules of someone else’s gravitational field.

The NYTimes won’t have to make this transition anytime soon. They dealt with this sea change early and effectively enough that they can continue to function like an institution for a while longer, along with a few other elite media outlets.

Is Vox Media what news-as-service-provider looks like? Is it a user-selected assortment of Substacks and other D2C news providers? Or does a new curation intermediary, bundling reporting+analysis talent in a meaningfully different and valuable way?

Other verticals are facing this institution -> service provider sea change:

  • Museums and cultural institutions
  • Entertainment/media
  • Higher education (elite schools largely excepted)

Horizontals are facing their own disintegration and shifting consensus that mirrors what institutions are facing:

  • How does work and innovation function best now?
  • How do marketers leverage super-aggregators without giving up too much control?

These are a scant few examples of a more expansive sea change.

If you believe, as I do, that consulting is really about helping people respond to or initiate change, then these are all opportunities.

If you have the stomach for cultivating and articulating an outsider expert POV, dealing with long sales cycles, and working with clients who badly need your expertise and hate that they need it, then I think you’ve got what it takes to pursue the opportunity of advising or supporting institutions that have to navigate this transition.

The problem is that your clients mostly hate these changes. They see and feel the loss of institutional status more than they see and feel the opportunity to figure out a highly valuable way to serve a market.

Still, it’s an opportunity.

Keep building; keep taking risks, y’all
-P