Tuesday 13 August 2013

Kurt Paulus on ALPSP International Conference: Making change happen

2012 ALPSP Awards winners
This is the fourth and final post in a series of reflections on the 2012 ALPSP International Conference by Kurt Paulus, former Operations Director at the Institute of Physics, and long time supporter of ALPSP. Our thanks go to Kurt for capturing the sessions. If this whets your appetite, book for the 2013 conference now.

Making change happen

References to what publishers might do to ride the crest of the wave of change have been scattered throughout the conference, so there is no lack of ideas. Indeed, as Stephen Pinfield noted in the final panel discussion, there is more experimentation now than ever before with technologies, services and business models, as publishers are overcoming their fears of the uncertainties  change brings with it. Anita de Waard put it this way:

  • Experiment all over the place.
  • Support scientists working at the forefront of information handling and networking.
  • Join fora where scientists, publishers and librarians cooperate.
  • Form partnerships and alliances where you cannot manage on your own.

But don’t expect your cherished organizational structures to survive the change process. All publishing roles will have to adapt. Close interaction with your customers and users may be hindered by the still prevalent functional set-up of many organizations. Skills – technological, analytical, social – will need to be reinforced. IT professionals will have to become more business aware and outward facing, and the concept of the IT department may disappear. All this requires complete reorientation of organizations.

“Work on your business as well as in your business.” Arend Welmers

Lost? Help is at hand from company doctor Arend Welmers of Quantum90 who gave the second keynote presentation with some simple messages:
  • A common disease in organizations is functional thinking. Your role in your organization is not your job title.
  • The job you may not be doing is helping your company to progress and make more money. You are hired to make the company successful.
  • All organizations, whether for profit or not, are competing in a marketplace.
  • ‘Employee engagement’ is just consultants’ eyewash. Employees must learn to behave as if they own their company and are individually responsible for making it succeed.
Arend’s recipe is called ‘Open book management’, where everyone is involved in running the company and has access to all information about company information, especially financial, presented in such a way that they know which levers they have to pull to improve performance and so that they can see the results. And if they are successful, why not let them share in the success by moving towards shared ownership?
Arend is a challenging and enthusiastic speaker, so much so that he was able to devote less time than he would have liked to his case study, the Springfield Remanufacturing Corporation, where the crux of his message is. In discussion it emerged that he had been working with the American Institute of Physics for a couple of years, and that might have been a better case study for this conference. The testimonial from Fred Dylla, CEO of American Institute of Physics, was complimentary!


The winners of the ALPSP awards are given on the ALPSP website, but it is worth noting that the ALPSP Award for Contribution to Scholarly Publishing 2012 went not to an individual but to an organization, CrossRef, with the following citation (abbreviated):

“The Council of ALPSP was delighted to make this award to CrossRef, the independent not-for-profit organization set up and run by publishers to facilitate the linking between scholarly publications using the Digital Object Identifier. Launched in 2000, this system grew rapidly to hold 3 million DOIs in just a year and now holds metadata for 55.5 million conference proceeding articles, book chapters and journal articles right back to the first articles published in Philosophical Transactions in 1665. With over 4,000 participating publishers, CrossRef’s reach is international and it is very well regarded not just amongst publishers, but also the literary community and researchers.”

This happily reinforces one of the conference messages, that unity is strength and collaboration helps overcome weaknesses.

Kurt Paulus, 2012
Booking for the 2013 conference is open.

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