Why Book Publishers Must Change Culture to Evolve Their Businesses
My main contribution, I believe, is to challenge people to change how they think about what work they do, how they do that work more collaboratively, and how they measure that work -- as one means to accelerate achievement of goals.
2. Why is it important for book publishers to reassess and evolve their culture?
Culture is largely misunderstood by many as the "soft" province of the Human Resource director -- and often as an impossible task for an overworked few. In fact, it is the most powerful tool for business execution and innovation -- but one that needs to be consciously invested in. To make culture change more actionable in meaningful ways, avoid judgmental terms like good or bad. I suggest evaluating whether a culture is "aligned" with what a publisher says they want to do in today's marketplace. If a publisher wants to simply do what they've always done and are doing well -- no change to strategy, products, services, promotion, pricing -- and their culture is working to deliver this dependably and with high levels of employee and customer satisfaction, then "don't mess with Texas!" Celebrate alignment.
If a publisher is evolving their strategy -- for example, how they make money with what products and services for whom -- then part of that is evaluating whether or not the culture is creating an environment that supports this. Many publishing cultures are optimized to be a machine of output of familiar products for familiar customers. If a company wants to keep that machine humming while ALSO doing the "new stuff," then a company needs to be very clear and coherent in their messaging about how this "and" work is going to get done and be supported.
That is why it is often perceived as "hard" to innovate -- many book publishing cultures haven't had the structure, vocabulary, processes, or even physical space to do things fundamentally differently. This is not a failure of the rank and file, however, but the absence of "systems thinking" -- understanding how the way people work with whom -- plays a huge role in how companies succeed or fail.
3. What are some of the ways that executives can assess their culture and make changes to improve it?
Ask. Your. Customers. And. Employees.