Friday, November 03, 2006

Innovation in publishing companies

Richard Charkin who is the CEO of Macmillan publishing provides some insight to Macmillan's innovations:

"At Macmillan we try to encourage innovation by devolving responsibility to small creative units. For instance Palgrave Macmillan has set up a three-person team to help us identify new opportunities in academic and textbook publishing and then take them to market. " via Charkin Blog
I can't agree more, keep the teams to a minimal number, cut-off the bureaucracy and forget creating a large group for the sake of involving all the parties of an organization so that the large group can produce a creative idea. When you have large groups you go into "brainstorming" mode and the result can be delays in the whole process and a mediocre output.

"I can't remember a single instance where a group produced a really creative idea," John Clark a former university dean of engineering(WSJ sub req)

Richard also touches why large publishing companies are struggling with innovation:

"Albatros 4; Profile 16; Faber 82; Bloomsbury 271; Informa 7000; McGraw-Hill 18,000; News Corporation 30,000; Pearson 32,000; Reed Elsevier 37,000; Thomson 40,000, Bertelsmann 93,000. [number of employees] The conclusion was that size is not in itself an inhibitor nor a catalyst for innovation in publishing although the larger (and more publicly owned) the company the harder it is (obviously) to remain nimble and innovative."

Another interesting note in Richard's post is since January he had 276,172 visitors to his Blog. This is another reason why I am saying in this blog and internally at Elsevier that our CEOs and senior managers (and all employees) should use blogs to communicate and share their thoughts on the industry, their expertise and knowledge and personal "real life" stories with the market and customers.

Btw I should also say that even though at Elsevier we don't have a formal blogging policy for employees, no one "dropped the hammer" on me. My colleagues and senior managers including my direct manager have been all supportive.

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