I was having a casual dialogue with a friend/client in London about strategy making and paradox of resources management between investing in today’s business vs. tomorrow’s business. As usual I went into explaining the 50 reasons why innovation is so hard for larger organizations (and the 50 tactics to deal with each of them). There is no simple and quick answer to that question; it is like asking how a company can become more profitable. The answer is growing your top-line and control your bottom-line. That doesn’t help. The same for innovation, the quick answer from consultants is separate the business and treat it like a new venture. Well yes and no. If only if it is that simple.
The answer lies in how strategic planning is being carried out today and company quickly ignore any of non-quantitative and non-financial data. And there are a lack of tools for them to collectively imagine the futures and sense-making of massive data in large organizational settings is another challenge. And how different organizational designs can allow the strategic agility needed to cope with external shocks. There are so many things in our current management practices that are outdated and even business schools are behind.
My friend was complaining that he didn’t find magazines such as Harvard Business Review useful or interesting to read anymore. For me, I stopped reading that about 3-4 years ago, especially after they switched to monthly from quarterly or bi-monthly and the quality of the editorial was not as good as before. At least 90% of the content are not of interest to me anymore. Not sure if it is me or it is them. But I am sure they are doing well from an advertising revenue perspectives as well as circulation, it has gone mainstream and mass market and did a great job optimization every revenue opportunities from the content. But it is no longer a publication for senior management at least that’s not what I think. But it is a solid publishing business with a healthy bottom line.
On the other hand, MIT Sloan Management Review and California Management Review have not been able to get beyond being academic journals but produce very high quality academic content. Both are more managerially friendlier than the other 100 plus academic journals basically catered for small academic communities.
Strategy+Business is the shinning star and has remained to be extremely relevant for senior corporate managers and the editorial and layout design is far better than HBR and others. I think it is the only magazine that circulation was still growing last year. I think they get it right. I personally like the editorial direction, design and the format. There's a very consistent senior management perspective across all issues and riogr in editorial selection. And it is not academic, very practical in everysense.
Rotman’s magazine offers a lot of fresh ideas and has the most up-to-date ideas on management, although the design is pretty bad from a readability perspective. It is just difficult for me to read. I suspect their circulation base is very small. LBS' Business Strategy Review has gone through a completely redesign and not sure why they decided to go for a smaller size, but it has become less academic and more managerially relevant, always there is a seriousness in it the LBS style. Very global in nature and almost aims solely at the C-suite and policy makers.
And then there are Fast Company, Fortune, Forbes and Business Week. Other than Fast Company, all are very traditional business magazines and other than Fast Company, everyone is getting a bit boring. I don’t have time to read magazines, but I always love having a copy of Fast Company lying around and occasionally pick it up and scan for 5 minutes. There are also a dozen of local magazines un the UK, Netherlands and Australia on design and innovation, but they are very local in nature.
In view of that, I decided to publish our own magazines. Here’s what I think is needed: We need a magazine that talks about innovation including design, art and business, which have traditionally been viewed as three totally different domains. There is no innovation magazine out there, Business Week used to have an innovation section which I like so much when Bruce Nussbaum was still there. That should be the future of Business Week. They missed that opporunity big time. Unfortunately Bruce left and there was a big restructuring. So far, only Fast Company is the sole business magazine that bridges the gap between design and business.
The idea of this new magazine is bring design and business together - the d-shool meets b-school idea. I want to see a magazine that is easy to read, non-academic and professionally relevant, provides alternative concepts and ideas on design, strategy and innovation, blurs the boundaries of design and business, talks design not in technical sense or as a craft but as a way of problems solving, introduce new innovation frameworks and processes to power up strategy, illustrated by contemporary photography and delivered in a cool and edgy editorial design. Some one mentioned it will be Wallpaper plus business and innovation and minus furnitures and fashion. Interesting. I do want a nice cover that makes you want to leave it on your coffee table. That’s kind of the implicit goals and will probably take us a few issues before we get it right.
Here's a frist glimpse of the cover, the cover pic was shot in Milan and the cover model was chosen from a dozen of models to best reflect elegance. The magazine name MISC stands for Movement/Intuition/Structure/Complexity. The name just came to me one night while I was talking on a conference call with a client, but I like it. First issue in newstands late Jan/early Feb 2011 in UK, US, Canada, France, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. Here is a preview of the different cover designs. I am excited about it. And I really need to get some sleep.