Step 1: Determine your direction

It’s easy to stand still, or only flow somewhat in a given direction, if you aren’t thinking about an actual origin and a specific destination. When it comes to challenging and changing the culture of local news organizations, we have to start with the basics by stepping back from the complexities, which can over-inundate us with so much data that it becomes impossible to move in the right direction.

Harvard Business Review uses a career growth strategy, “from/to” statements, to do this. This “current state/future state” tactic is clear and begets concise, memorable direction.

You’ll write two brief statements — one describing where you are today and one describing where you aspire to be. Keep in mind, though, that organizational culture change isn’t a direct shot and won’t happen overnight. Tempering our expectations and being committed to the long game is critical for measuring and sustaining newsroom well-being. Consider where you are now versus where you aspire to be. Consider this both for you as a news leader or as an individual contributor and also for your organization.

Step 2: Write your statements

No need to get fancy. The formula is simple:


Some examples from the API Summit include:

Present State


Future State

HR brings up mental health when an employee is underperforming


Managers cultivate supportive relationships where they model care and promote benefits and policies that can help journalists

A team that hasn’t had intentional conversations around burnout and exposure to trauma and how it may be impacting us


A team that has shared language, recognizes the effects of burnout and trauma and is proactive about addressing them

Newsroom managers prioritize work output and expect regular 10-hour days, especially for non-parents


Managers prioritize the people over the journalism, and logging completely out after 8 hours is not only accepted but supported.

Step 3: Check your statements for best practices

Strong and actionable from/to statements have a couple of things in common. For example:

  • They name observed and verified conditions. Perhaps you want to target retention in your measuring well-being strategy this week. Or use of PTO. Or workload demands. Or staff development. Or trauma response. Whatever you choose, be sure to name the observation or condition.
  • They also use descriptive and specific language — they’re concise. If you can’t remember and recite your from/to without looking, you need a rewrite. If you can’t see the issue, you need a rewrite.

Additionally, they may make you uncomfortable, and the “to” is just far enough away that it will be meaningful when you achieve it.

Next week, we’ll evolve your from/to statements into a set of aspirational goals, which we like (or dislike) calling OKRs (objectives and key results). Our hope, of course, is that over these four Mondays, you’ll develop a measuring well-being strategy and gain the confidence needed to put it into action alongside others in your organization.

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