Companies outside of publishing have recognized that breaking down the cultural barriers between functional organizations is critical to implementing this kind of process and workflow improvements. GE's "boundary-less" organization philosophy of the mid-1980's led to significant bottom line growth and stability. It's now time for publishers to embrace this philosophy in order to support the evolution of the company to handle both traditional and new media products.
According to an article that appeared in BusinessWeek, one publisher that has reportedly taken bold steps along these lines is Rodale, creator of how-to books and magazines. Their new organization is structured around content collections instead of product lines. Editorial directors are fully responsible for all product delivery—from books to online content—within a specific subject area. With the creation of content groups, Rodale feels that it will be much better positioned to become a major multimedia company.
Most publishers aren't ready—and may not need—to make such drastic changes. But as publishers have recognized for several years, there is no real choice but to invest in new media, and so change is unavoidable. Regardless of whether a publisher chooses a radical or conservative approach, change should include more disciplined and empowered project management, incremental process redefinition and organizational, and therefore, cultural adjustments. But unfortunately, no software product available will make any of this any easier.
-Barry Bealer (Co-Founder of Really Strategies)