Insights (Essays)

Insights (Essays) January 2011

"I’m sorry" doesn’t cut it.

Anton Hart

In Harvard Business Review Seth Godin writes: “If you succeed without treating your people, your customers, and your resources with respect and honesty, you have failed.”

Yesterday he sent out a blog post reminding his readers that one of the most vibrant segments of the stereo business is the category of products that are ridiculously expensive (and really good). They succeed because many people don’t want to apologize for the sound of their systems. They will go out of their way to buy products that don't require an apology. They want the best.

Stay with me. The two thoughts come together.

What’s the point? Well, we work for our readers, viewers and listeners, and we relate and rely on many others to deliver. Longwoods has staff members who are (what else) on staff. We have editors who stake their reputations on what we publish and we have authors who build and maintain their reputations on what they write. Key too, is the sector of innovators who provide the ideas, products and services that empower the system. We also have “friends of Longwoods” -- less formal relations that are critical to the welfare of publishing. They include healthcare experts, publishing experts, business experts, “e” experts and more. Many of them give freely of their time when we ask and corporately or institutionally they provide us financial support. Why do they do that?

It goes back fifteen years when Dianne Foster Kent and I came together with an ad hoc advisory board* and recognized immediately that this was an invaluable resource of people willing to serve what (they must have thought) was a noble endeavour. It was the beginning of a small corporate initiative that couldn’t do without these individuals. So here we are, ostensibly, a ‘for profit’ organization with a payroll, a business model that defines its market clearly, a range of products and services, a price on all of it, and institutional and corporate patrons. We are committed to deliver on our promises. What we have found, however, is that the commercial substance is not just knowledge, information, ideas, policies, programs, journals and conferences. It is as much our carefully curried reputation (or “image”) -- a complex cluster of value satisfactions. The more complex our offering, the more salient the needs of our readers, viewers, and listeners, the more critical and valuable is this asset of reputation. Like that most expensive sound system, when a collaboration of like-minds, driven by a shared passion, combine their considerable knowledge, talents and resources with the desire to create something beyond the state-of-the-art, special things can happen.

And so with this hint of a future, we made the commitment to do it right and “never embarrass our editors.” Their reputation, we knew then, was our reputation. We are loyal to that promise and so committed to never having to apologize to our editors, writers, authors, presenters, partner organizations and advisors. They are integral to the substance that is Longwoods and have responsibly provided knowledge and information that our readers, listeners and viewers can rely on. I invite you to read our masthead and note their names and organizations. They serve you – the policy makers, payers, providers, administrators, researchers, thinkers, innovators, lecturers, professors, and more. Together, they are Longwoods. They deserve respect and honesty. And we do not ever want to have to apologize to them for not providing the best. “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it. It’s a curious way to safeguard quality . . . but it’s worked.


*We began planning the first issue of our first journal in 1996.



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