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Mike Richman

Customer Care

Change and the Single-Title Media Company

A continuous-improvement case study

Published: Thursday, September 6, 2018 - 11:03

If you want to keep stretching and improving, you’d better get comfortable with the discomfort of change. People have been saying that for decades, yet each time we successfully adjust to new business developments—or personal developments, for that matter—what’s the first thing we tend to want to do? If you’re like me, you probably take a deep breath, enjoy a few fleeting moments of self-congratulation, and whisper to yourself, “I’m sure glad that’s over.”

But it’s never over, is it? Not really; at least, it’s not if you’re the kind of person who might read a column like this one, on a site like Quality Digest. Whether quality is your avocation, your job, or your passionate pursuit, you know that success means never accepting the status quo and never, ever thinking that you’re done improving. If you fall into that trap, you’re burying a kind of ordinance that will explode before you even remember it’s underfoot.

To be clear, you don’t necessarily have to like change, but if you want to foster positive, long-term growth for yourself and your organization, it would help to at least develop a certain tolerance for it. That goes for those of us who are in manufacturing, or healthcare, or government, or even media. Forces are at play for all of us that make standing still an intolerably risky proposition.

Think about it: Just in the last decade, quality-centric businesses have seen incredible advances in data acquisition and analysis, augmented and virtual reality, information privacy and portability, computational power and speed, customer choice, and changing definitions of brand loyalty. Each breakthrough contains opportunities and threats, risks as well as rewards.

I’ve chatted with many of you over the years. From those conversations, I know that the rapidly changing landscape represented by these issues, and many more, are causing your organizations considerable consternation from the C-suite down to the shop floor. But the case study I know the best is my own. Like you and those on your team, I and my dedicated co-workers at Quality Digest are assessing change and charting paths forward, just as we have done for most of the past four decades.

The media industry is undergoing seismic shifts in its core business models; these changes have been occurring for quite some time and have only continued to accelerate during the past few years. Consequently, those of us at Quality Digest have grown adept at the art of reinvention. Ten years ago, when you, our readers, showed less inclination to consume our long-form articles printed and shipped via a monthly magazine, we reallocated resources to offer an online-only format. When you wanted a greater variety of media, we rolled out self-produced video, including what’s still the only regularly produced web TV show in our industry, Quality Digest Live. When you sought out a deeper level of connection with solutions and solution providers, we created special events such as our Virtual Test and Measurement Expo.

Right now, media companies like ours are implementing plans to address threats from topical fragmentation and charges of partisan bias; calls to enhance privacy protections and adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation and GDPR-like restrictions; challenges from competing advertising platforms such as Google and LinkedIn; an increasing reluctance of users to access information via email; and, eventually, autonomous content creation that could make journalists’ jobs and the value of independent media brands like Quality Digest obsolete altogether. Some of these things don’t much affect medium-sized business-to-business media companies, but we need to be aware of them all.

One thing that makes me proud to work at Quality Digest is that, from our owners on down, we’re not a group that passively waits for the future to arrive. Thus, when faced with these significant shifts in the terrain on which we operate, we’re doing what we’ve always done—change, and change for the better.

During the coming weeks and months, you’re going to see us go about the business of delivering great and valuable content to you in some new and improved ways:
• Less email. We’re going to be more selective about the amount of times we send information to you. For example, our daily e-newsletter will be phased out starting later this month. We’ll still be sending you newsletters, but whether the frequency is a couple of times a week or just once a week is yet to be determined. We’ll be testing this throughout the rest of 2018… and your opinion matters! Let us know in the comments below (or anytime at comments@qualitydigest.com) your thoughts on this.
• More solution-focused content. That means news you can use, available anytime online at www.qualitydigest.com. Just because we won’t be blowing up your inbox doesn’t mean that we won’t have loads of great, fresh content for you each and every day. In fact, we’ll have more, featuring case studies, videos, and white papers, all offering you support through your journey of learning how to improve your organization’s quality.
• Greater choice and ease of use. Want an overview of risk and how it functions in ISO 9001:2015? Need a primer on the U.S.-China relationship? Interested in learning the specific quality parameters of the life sciences industry? These and other editorial guides written and assembled by our editors will allow you to quickly find and use much of our best information, and share it easily with those on your team, too.

As the calendar turns to 2019, the most effective of these changes and others yet to come will simply become our new standard operating procedures. Will those of us at Quality Digest then turn to each other and say, “I’m sure glad that’s over?” What do you think?

The great thing about quality is that there’s never a time when you get stale. If you do it right, you’re always in a state of destruction and creation, of planning and execution, of assessment and reassessment. We at Quality Digest are blessed to have in you, our audience, partners who are not merely invested in the outcome of our continuous-improvement journey for the sake of the output that we can deliver to you, but who are also intensely curious about our process itself. That’s because ours is a relationship more akin to colleagues, and hopefully, peers. This journey of understanding is one that we are taking together, for the greater good of quality and excellence. And for those of us in this field, there is no higher, more worthy goal.


About The Author

Mike Richman’s picture

Mike Richman



” People are very open-minded about new things, as long as they’re exactly like the old ones.” » Charles F. Kettering

” If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” » Woodrow Wilson

” It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” » W. Edwards Deming

Seriously, I will be the first to admit that the daily blast may not get read for a day or so. But, I always find something of interest when I do finally get there, so I guess frequency of delivery does not bother me too much. I would, however, feel it appropriate that the Thursday delivery be "untouchable"... this is where I find out what will be happening on Friday's QDL, allowing me, if something is of greater than normal interest, to do my homework.

On the point of technology replacing writers, I would not worry for a very long time. An AI might make the writers research easier, but I can't see it replacing intuition, insight, or, especially, imagination. 

A tad over two years ago, you had a column in a similar vein, where my reaction was that a computer could never write "Blazing Saddles". Later concluding, that it might write it, but never know if it was funny.

Good luck on your regeneration!