SAT-7: A Work in Progress

It’s tempting to try to “big-up” the work of SAT-7, to give a public face that everything is perfect and that we are totally effective in every area. Of course that isn’t the case; like every organisation there is much that SAT-7 aspires to as we labour to achieve our mission. That’s part of the fun for me working as our Operations Director: there is still plenty of stuff to work on that can have a huge impact on our ability to operate efficiently and be truly effective.

Here is a selection of some of the things that I have been working on recently to try and make us even better:

  • New Audience Relations System: our efforts to implement a new system for more effectively responding to the 100,000 viewer communications we receive each year are progressing well. We will soon be able to receive emails, SMS, webforms, and Facebook posts all into a single interface for our Audience Relations teams to use. Read a dedicated update on that project here.
  • Launching a new 24×7 Turkish language channel which is streamed over the Internet. This is going well with user training well underway, the new contract with our suppliers negotiated, and a new video streaming company engaged (they help us to stream content to a large number of viewers!) We plan to go live with this new channel during March 2012.
  • Potential demand for paid TV services. We’re running a research project among the Arab diaspora based in the USA. Working with a Management Masters Student (formerly of Toshiba & latterly Kings Bible College), we are researching whether SAT-7 has an attractive proposition for viewers outside of the Middle East. There are an estimated 4 million Arabs living in the USA and we are testing whether they might help fund SAT-7’s free-to-air services in the Middle East. This has been done using Facebook adverts and SurveyMonkey (read more here).
  • Helping Organise a Management Retreat. For the first time in about 10 years, SAT-7 is bringing together its Management team from across the region to get everyone “on the same page” and to make sure that we all have a common understanding of what SAT-7 is trying to achieve and how we are going about it. I’ve been working on some of the key presentations that describe what we are about. I’ll probably share some of this in a later post, but am keeping it under wraps until after the meetings).
  • Succession Planning. Yep – this sounds a long way from the sharp end of the business – broadcasting the message of God’s love across the Middle East – but its the reality of working in a professional organisation. We have to be able to keep operating if & when key people leave. I’ve designed the process (borrowing heavily from some good practice at IBM) and have also helped to drive it through the organisation.
  • Documenting our Key Processes. OK – even I struggle to keep my eyes open with this one! But, boy is it important! If we don’t document how we are supposed to do things, then chaos will reign. This piece of work helps to clarify individual’s job roles & responsibilities, the hand-offs between departments, and hopefully paves the way for process improvement.

There is undoubtably more that I’m working on which is making a difference, and added with all the other things that our teams are doing to improve what we do, we are moving forwards! SAT-7 has set its sights high, we have big plans for impacting a hugely needy part of the world; it’s only by working as a team and by running a professionally managed organisation with processes and disciplines that we are able to do what we do.

I don’t try to “big-up” the work of SAT-7. Mostly it doesn’t need it! We may be far from perfect, but we are reaching over 15 million people a year and impacting them for the good. But there is still a long way to go.


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