By Wythe Walker
Management 101 Series
I once worked for a man who had been the COO of Dow Jones & Co. in the 1990s, Ray Shaw. The flagship publication was, of course, The Wall Street Journal. Today the company has 13,000 employees.
When I worked for Mr. Shaw, he ran American City Business Journals which owned 40 business journals and a NASCAR racing magazine. Out of curiosity, I asked him, What’s the essential difference between working for Dow Jones and American City?
He said, with American City, if I wake up in the morning and have an idea, I can start implementing it that day. With Dow Jones it would be at least a year.
I’ve worked at companies with three employees, 30 employees, 300 employees, 1,000 employees, 30,000 employees.
All successful, all in publishing, all basically doing the same thing: reporting and writing something, arranging the copy either on newsprint or magazine stock or posting it on the Internet in some kind of frequency and charging money to either readers, advertisers or both for the expected attention to those articles and ads.
Along the way, they had to collect the money, manage the money flow, pay their employees.
What are the differences and what are the commonalities? Does size matter?
In some ways, from the smallest to the largest publication, everything is the same.
You have to have workers to fulfill five essential functions: Writing the product; making and selling the ads; producing the final product; distributing the product; doing the financial accounting for all of it; and, managing all five operations.