For a Workflow Change, Support from the Top is Required

Last week Laura Dawson and I spoke about StartWithXML to a group of IT and operations people from publishers at the User Group meeting for Global Turnkey Systems, a company owned by one of our lead sponsors, Klopotek.

We got some great questions afterwards. On reflection, we realized that they touched an important theme: the need for CEO-level support for the change initiatives to put XML into the workflow. There are savings of time and money to be made by doing this, but that’s not the immediate result. In the short run, the changes require more work, more effort, and, sometimes it would seem, generate a less desirable result.

This echoes what we’ve heard from Andrew Savikas of O’Reilly. Instead of characterizing the two elements of a publishing organization as “hard (production, accounting, ops) and “soft” (editorial, marketing), Andrew says that for XML change they are “hard” and “harder.” Trying to get the most creative people in a publishing company to do something that is “harder” requires a top-down understanding that doing it is important to the business.

That’s why we asked David Young, the CEO of Hachette Books in the US, to deliver our keynote address. He’ll be speaking on the topic “XML: Why Bother?” That’s the question every CEO must answer to get the collaboration up and down an organization that large and systemic change requires.

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