This is What Real Innovation Looks Like

fippinsightThe key to surviving in publishing today? It takes brave leadership with an unwavering commitment to innovation at all levels. 

What’s the biggest obstacle to positive change in the magazine industry?

According to Chris Llewellyn, president and CEO of FIPP, it’s a prevailing culture that’s averse to change.

“Magazines are alive and well but must keep morphing, in tune with innovations and disruptions, and amid a swirl of financial uncertainty in much of the media ecosystem,” writes Magda Abu-Fadil in HuffPost Media. She cites FIPP’s Innovation in Magazine Media 2016-2017 World Report when she writes that the industry has “a need for leaders who create cultures conducive to creativity and risk-taking.”

“Give your boss this story: Innovation starts with the leader,” is the forceful message in the report’s chapter on the need to change magazines’ culture, she explains. “Without leadership, training, and rewards, innovation will not happen.”

The report is packed with information on trends in the industry, including micropayments, ad blocking, data solutions and the importance of mobile compatibility. None of that will mean a thing without a C-suite level commitment to an open, innovation-friendly culture.

Abu-Fadil boils it down into a 10-step list:

  • Announce a commitment to innovation in an all-staff meeting;
  • Invite managers and staff to participate in an innovation-friendly organization;
  • Create cross-discipline task forces to tackle organizational, workflow, technology, training, etc., challenges and changes;
  • Determine training needs across all departments, identify skill/knowledge champions, send them for training, have them train the rest of the staff;
  • Report progress regularly;
  • Change job descriptions to reflect changes (the task of one of the task forces);
  • Decide what work does NOT need to be done anymore to free up time for innovation;
  • Create a budget and process for rewarding innovative thinking and projects;
  • Change meeting agendas to focus on innovative thinking and project planning; and
  • Either create a Twitter account or blog or other digital communication system, or start using your existing account more regularly to demonstrate your personal commitment to innovation.

It’s always refreshing to see industry leaders focusing on solutions that can be implemented on any size team, and this report is a great place to start.  Dive in and bring some innovation to your publishing ventures. It’s a brave, beautiful new world out there.