Sunday, March 01, 2009

Time to Review our Mission Statements?

The pace of change in the publishing industry is almost as eye-popping as the changes themselves. The playing field is being re-leveled much more quickly than most of us ever believed it would. Every single day - sometimes multiple times a day - we're seeing the evidence of these changes... A newspaper or magazine stops printing, a new electronic reading device is announced, traditional roles that have been in publishing for decades are obsoleted seemingly overnight.

Some of these changes are painful to watch, and some are very exciting to watch. But, one thing is definitely true, we're in the midst of major changes. I don't think anyone can really predict where this all going. We all try, but we're all really guessing. Our predictions are all based on trend lines that don't have enough data points.

A blog post by Seth Godin about how trade guilds seem to be trying to defend the status quo, sent my head spiraling in a number of directions. (Thanks again, Mike, for the recommendation) Why is Mr. Godin correct? It seems to me that it's all about the missions of those organizations. They are in place to protect the interests of their constituents.

In a time of great change, that mission seems almost laughable, because the interests of the constituents are changing daily. How can a trade guild possibly keep up?

It was all the rage in the 80's and 90's to come up with mission statements for organizations that would last for years. It was a great concept, but during a maelstrom of change, it fails. In order to survive organizations need to react to both the opportunities and threats that present themselves. And, in publishing, they are presenting themselves every day!

At Firebrand, we reviewed our mission last year when we re-branded the company. I think it's time we review it again, to insure that it is still relevant to our constituents during this turbulent time.

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