Seven Principles of Content Marketing in the Digital Age — Part 6

Redefine working relationships for the benefit of all stakeholders.

In a Mequoda System, a publishing company’s owners, managers, and employees all share information, authority and responsibility in a symbiotic relationship that creates value for everyone. Even subscribers play a role by responding to editorial initiatives and contributing content.

We didn’t dream up this idea, we discovered and modeled it.

Dr. Henry Mintzberg, Professor of Management Studies at McGill University in Montreal, advocates that managers share power, not only with their direct employees, but also with their business partners, customers, and anyone else in their business ecosystem.

That’s a long way from the old-school, Theory X, “command and control” business management model.

What exactly is empowerment and how do you empower your publishing company colleagues?

Dr. Mintzberg says it’s making certain everyone in your organization knows what they are allowed to do, and rewarding them when their contributions benefit the organization.

“A leader has to be one of two things. He either has to be a brilliant visionary himself, a truly creative strategist, in which case he can do what he likes and get away with it. Or else he has to be a true empowerer who can bring out the best in others,” says Dr. Mintzberg.

Empowerment brings out the best in both individuals and the organization. Organizing for empowerment requires business managers to think outside the box and take a new look at how stakeholders interact, using organigraphs.

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Content marketing principle #6: Empower Your Organization

An organigraph combines an organization chart with a business process flow. Organigraphs are graphic representations that depict stakeholder relationships instead of the linear reporting relationships represented by traditional org charts.

The organigraph’s purpose is to help employees, managers, vendors and customers to envision all the resources, technology, processes, and activities that are involved in creating products and bringing them to market.

This organigraph illustrates how online editorial team members, partners, customers, technology, and products interface to form a business process system. It depicts the moving of editorial content through a publishing system. Note the number of people involved in the editorial process includes each functionary who touches the content.

The existence of a “boss” is almost antithetical to the organigraph. In Mintzberg’s model, individuals become empowered, not from their immediate supervisor, but by interacting with the entire organization.

A publishing company CEO doesn’t bully a Mequoda System, she inspires it. The publisher’s role in a Mequoda System is to be a benign dictator, to empower others to achieve peak performance (and to protect them from the occasional miscreant).

Key metrics are shared with all the team members, especially those who need them to measure their job performance. Examples from a Mequoda System include:

  • A copywriter monitors the revenue per thousand and the opt-out rates off his email efforts.
  • A subscriber to a blog or an email newsletter posts a response to another user on a discussion forum.
  • An editor gets reTweeted by enthusiastic subscribers.
  • A computer systems analyst knows an audience development manager’s keyword targets.
  • All the members of the publishing team are aware of the revenue per subscriber and lifetime value of a customer.

Every empowered Mequoda System publishing team member is clear about the value of his efforts to the overall success of the enterprise. Each gets him regular feedback about the quality of his contribution.

A fully functioning Mequoda System behaves like a biological organism. It grows, breathes, reproduces and behaves in its own best interests because all of the individuals who constitute the Mequoda System behave in their own best interests, which are aligned with the goals of the organization.

In my next blog post we’ll discuss content marketing principle #7: Manage by Exception.

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