I want to tell you a story. It’s a story about one of the strangest phenomenons in television that I’ve ever been exposed to. It’s a story about being ready to pivot.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who, a show that I have never seen. Not even one episode (so many Whovians are angry with me right now…). Today the next Doctor was announced. For those of you who, like me, have never seen the show, you’re probably wondering:
- What am I talking about?
- Why does this matter?
- What good does this information do me?
I’m talking about a feature of the show that has happened officially 11 times, but unofficially 13: the changing of the Doctor. Please correct me if I counted that wrong. The synopsis of the show, based on my understanding, is that the Doctor (the main character of the show) is an “immortal” time traveler. However, he can be killed. When he does, he regenerates with a different appearance. In other words, the show changes lead actors.
It matters to the fan base because apparently the doctor can only do this a limited number of times, and once his course is run, the show is presumed to be over. This is the major reason the show has been able to continue for 50 years (minus a 16 year hiatus) – the actor can grow old, but the Doctor can live on.
What good does this information do you, though? Well, simply put, there is a major lesson here. The creators of the show built in the ability to pivot. As a result, the show is capable of redirecting itself away from failure at nearly any time. But the changing of the Doctor is only one way that the show built a pivot point into its strategy. The storyline is that of a time-and-dimension-traveling humanoid known as a “Time Lord”. The beauty of the concept is that the show is neither tied to a particular actor nor a particular reality. And, from the few clips that I’ve watched, they utilize their freedom to the fullest to keep audiences young and old engaged. The clips I’ve seen are very interesting, and I may, in the near future, find the time to catch up on the past 50 years.
The results of that engagement have resulted in an entire “cult” fan base that includes collectors of Dr. Who merchandise, casual fans, Cosplayers and even an untitled spin-off (Full disclosure: I’m mentioning the spin-of because a friend of mine is involved. The spin-off was originally seen on Community, but has since been developed independently of NBC by the actor who plays “The Inspector” – Travis Richey, Carrie Keranen as Piper Tate, and my friend, Eric Loya, who plays “Boyish the Extraordinary”. Season 1 was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, and Season 2 is in the works.)
Zach Smith, CEO of Boomerang, offers up the story of how his young company turned the data they collected from failure into their opportunity to pivot. But it was only possible because they were mentally ready.
Image by Tim Hoggarth