Strategic Thinking and Scholarly Publishing, Part II

As I mentioned yesterday, I am currently reading (and enjoying) Richard Rumelt’s Good Strategy/Bad Strategy, and so I thought I would share John Byram’s (@jwbyram) thoughts on how Rumelt’s ten common strategic “blunders” can be applied to scholarly publishing. John is the Director of the University of New Mexico Press and has worked in publishing for over 25 years, so his insights draw on deep expertise and lengthy experience in the field.

Today we have Part II of the four-part series John originally posted on the Society for Scholarly Publishing Professionals Group on LinkedIn, a closed group. John has graciously given permission for me to share his piece in this open forum, and I will publish it here in its original four-part format. I hope you enjoy this series as much as I do.

Strategic Thinking and Scholarly Publishing, Part II

Common Strategic Blunders (Continued)


2. Mistaking strategic goals for strategy

Remember that strategy (defined as “identifying or creating asymmetric advantages” [Krepinevich and Watts, 2009]) is the active process of looking for ways to best help an organization shape its future, not

simply cataloging the intermediate goals that may lead to successful results if prepared and implemented properly. Determining how to construct the roadmap to attaining specific larger goals is an important,

ongoing task, but simply identifying these preferred outcomes is not enough. For example, an academic publisher’s strategic goal may be to increase its e-book sales by 75% over the next decade. How the

publisher envisions responding to changing conditions to reach that goal (through making educated assumptions about the direction of today’s digital marketplace, the current and future opportunities for

other competing publishers to also increase their e-book offerings, etc.) is where developing a strategy becomes essential.


3. Failing to recognize or state the strategic problem

Take the time to analyze your business environment and don’t take action until this analysis is complete. Do not mistake a small intermediate hurdle for the larger challenge that needs to be overcome, and

do not try to “cut corners” to reach a goal. Strategic problems can evolve over time, too, and must be occasionally reevaluated.


4. Choosing poor or unattainable strategic goals

Bad planning and poor results are directly linked. Decide what result is feasible and optimal based on available resources _before_ formulating a strategic plan. For example, might staff morale become a

factor in how aggressively to pursue certain initiatives?

[Part III follows tomorrow…]

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