Digital Directions: Addressing The Human Element of Digital Change
● Laziness. Change requires effort. Learning new skills requires effort. Redrafting contract templates requires effort. Everyone is already working at full capacity, right? We often understand what needs to be done to accomplish these changes but fail to rise to the occasion because it's too much work. We need to find the time.
● Greed. Organizations fail when they trade long-term competitive advantage for short-term financial gain. The effort that must go into advancing skill sets, processes and business practices represents an investment without a direct, short-term, product-based financial return. It is an investment in the future of the organization. While failure to invest in organizational change is understandable when a publishing house is attempting to meet earnings expectations, the long-term cost may be incalculable.
These concerns must be taken seriously and addressed by publishing management. Anyone within a publishing organization, no matter what level of the hierarchy, has the ability to derail a digital transformation initiative if they are so motivated. The publishing house wins by acting as a team.
Five years ago it may have been appropriate to forgo organizational changes of this magnitude, because it wasn't worth it financially. There was not enough digital revenue to justify it. That clearly is not the case today. The shifting trajectory of revenue toward digital, toward ebooks, apps and online services, makes a clear business case of executing these fundamental changes.
At first blush, technology-driven change in publishing seems to be all about machines. Yet it is how publishers execute changes to the human element that may make the difference between success and failure in negotiating this transformation. BB
Andrew Brenneman is founder of Finitiv, which provides publishers with cloud-based services, mobile product development and digital strategy consulting.