Management Architecture of the Late Show with David Letterman

I always think the “face” of an organization runs everything and does everything. Like in my head Elon Musk is torquing tires on Teslas and Steve Jobs polished iPods. It’s a mistake, every org takes a team. I like hearing about how things really work.

I learned how The Late Show worked from a recent interview with David Letterman.
He had a team, of course. And that team ran The Late Show. He doesn’t come up with everything and says “go do that”.

Here’s his insight into 3 subsystems of the machine, writers, advertisers, and stars:

On writers:

 I don’t know about my writers’ room. I never went to the writers’ room, so I have no idea what went on there. I stayed away: “Just call me when you’re done.”

On advertisers:

I can remember having a conversation via the sales department about Tylenol, and we had Bill O’Reilly on the show, and we were talking about something in the news, not particularly unpleasant but just something in the news. Tylenol called up and said, “You know what? We’re just going to lay out tonight. We’ll be back.”

On Hollywood guests:

Well, at some point publicists took over the talk shows. They were the people that booked the guests, and they had six or seven guests, so you had to be awfully nice to Guest A if you wanted to get to Guest B or C. I was not aware that this was going on until people started saying, “So-and-so is not going to be back on the show if you don’t be nice to so-and-so.” And I said, “What do we care?” And they’d say, “Well, because they also manage so-and-so and so-and-so’s sister, and we want those people on the show.” I realized not early into it that we were a tool for the careers of other people, which mediates what you’re going to talk about

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Tito Jankowski lives in San Francisco. He's a public speaker, biotech hacker, and post-hydrocarbon expert. He is the co-founder of Impossible Labs, expediting the post-hydrocarbon economy through partnerships between startups and Fortune 500 corporations. Find him on LinkedIn. Email Tito at blog@titojankowski.comPublic PGP key. PGP Fingerprint: 5A4F 4C5C E8B7 20C3 2867 9100 C56C 881F 13AE 02D7 EFF Guide to PGP Security

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