The Anatomy of Today’s Multimedia Publishing Company
Michael Raynor, author of “The Strategy Paradox” and distinguished fellow with Deloitte Consulting LLP’s research arm, likes to cite an old joke about a plate of bacon and eggs: The chicken’s involved, but the pig is committed. When it comes to managing change in the rapidly evolving publishing marketplace, Raynor says smart companies need pigs—but must have some chickens, too.
“The idea is that, at the corporate level, you are launching business initiatives not because you are convinced they are what you will need five years from now, but because you think they are what you might need,” he says. “However, if you’re the middle manager, the person who’s in charge of that particular initiative, you’re the pig in this particular metaphor. You’re committed to making this thing as successful as you possibly can.”
In other words, successful companies need executives willing to develop capabilities for a future they cannot actually predict, and they need managers fully committed to making an initiative work, without concern for whether or not it turns out to be a long-term solution. These seemingly incongruous imperatives, Raynor says, create the right environment for positive change.
Having executives not fully invested in a particular model may seem counterintuitive—but in today’s constantly changing media environment, this has been the key to success for many companies.
“What we ran across initially was [the attitude that], ‘We’re not going to spend any money on digital until we sell it,’” says Scott Harold, director of eMedia at business-to-business media company Ascend Media, of his company’s transition to an integrated publishing model. But, he notes, “Our success has come from not doing it that way. Being willing to take risks drives the strategy, and that involves getting a group publisher or division president excited, and saying ‘We can sell this, not just for one brand, but for 13 brands.’”