Change in the Publishing Industry – Eric Hellweg from Harvard Business Review (HBR)
Hellweg talks about how his team made change happen throughout an organization, and the role of putting the users and the community at the center of these efforts.
There are some classic quotes in Hellweg’s presentation, here’s just a few:
I want to just give a brief bit of context around the Publishing industry … I think everyone knows how challenging these times are, and in many ways, self-inflicted I think on the Publishing industry.
But the context is we are all in a battle of attention; we are all in a battle for an ever-shrinking amount of time for any one media property. I think we’re going through one of the the first actual repricing, reevaluation of advertising.
I don’t know if you’ve read the Ken Auletta book Googled, but there’s a great scene where Mel Karmazin – I think he was at CBS at the time – goes in for one of his first meetings at Google, and they’re explaining how Page Rank and Ad Sense work. And Mel, who’s built this empire literally on advertising, looks at them as says “You’re fu**ing with my magic!”
And that’s exactly what’s happening at large with the Publishing industry – is that for the first time, people are able to actually put a real value on advertising, which for most publishing companies is the crux of what their revenues come from.
That’s pretty profound. It’s a story that has been repeatedly told since the Google advertising model took off, but I think it bears repeating. Continuing:
I think when we talk about these kinds of organizational changes, these kind of cultural changes, that we really remember it’s something that’s happening at the individual level. And I think that one of the things that’s happening in the Publishing industry is at the human level, this is a really searing, and almost existential moment for them – in that the entire value proposition that people thought they had in publishing has fundamentally changed. …
As Brandon mentioned in my introduction, I did a fair amount of writing about the music industry back when I lived in San Francisco. And I remember at the time being a reporter, and looking at this industry and just saying, “How could they be so stupid? How could they not see what they need to do?” It’s so clear to me – a 27 year-old reporter – what this industry needs to do be doing with regards to the industry, and engaging its community, and dropping its litigious approach to strategy.
And I realized to my horror about two months ago, that the Publishing industry was actually doing the exact same thing. And I think they’re now at the stage where they’re about to collapse exhausted, defeated at Apple’s feet.
I haven’t finished watching Hellweg’s video, but I suspect there are some important lessons about user- and community-centered design approaches for the traditional publishing industry.