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The secret of picket-line success: no managers

There are a many moments I will never forget during the CBC Lockout.

One of them was watching a Radio 3 Host – the late Alexis Mazurin – rip around the building, challenging the rest of us to beat his time for fastest lap.

Another will be the morning we sat down to plan our first podcast. As a morning show producer, I was asked to be in charge. But very quickly freelancer JJ Lee left me in his dust. While I sat with pen in hand wanting to talk about ‘focus’ and ‘message,’ JJ was already miles ahead of me, jumping out of his chair with excitement about the possibilities.

One of the things I think we all learned pretty quickly was that we don’t need to wait for someone else to tell us what to do…and how to get it done. People with a great idea and the skills to match can achieve amazing results. Just ask Doug Lane and the rest of the crew who created CMGV, our pirate radio station that broadcast using solar power from our trailor.

Or ask Karen Burgess, who helped coordinate picket line serenades and our lockout music event without large committees or managers overseeing her work. Or Susan MacNamee, who spearheaded a very successful “walk a block with a host” outreach event….or Erica Johnson, who pulled the whole station together for ‘Word on the Street’….unplugged…or Paul Grant and the many, many on-air people who hosted podcasts, live events, outreach etc…

There are countless others who achieved small miracles every day out there on the line. As someone who has come perilously close to management status in recent years, I can tell you the most valuable thing I learned about getting things done is this: Great idea + Small teams of Committed and Talented People = Success. Large Committees + Countless Meetings + Top-Down idea = Failure.

Small teams of people who know what they are doing can create outstanding results – especially when they have free reign to do their best. Around the Vancouver plant, the many friends of Alexis Mazurin have posted Alexis’ rules to live by….and they apply here, too, and seem like a fitting end to this little piece.

1. Flow and Go
2. Be Positive.
3. Be Larger than life
4. There are no rules.


Laura Palmer is a producer at CBC in Vancouver.

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