Clients / Case study

Change in action at Penguin Random House

How do you ensure people thrive rather then just survive through change?

Change in action at Penguin Random House

The brief

When faced with unprecedented change, this leading global publishing house approached us for help with engaging their workforce in the daunting process of transitioning to a digital publishing world. Our Managing Director, Sandra Evans, comments; “Penguin Random House was faced with the ongoing and unprecedented challenge of transitioning to a digital publishing world - more online content, more e-books and increasingly, across the whole organisation and not just publishing, the impact on distribution and on the wider publishing industry. As a traditional publishing house, they needed to generate sustained change not only in their activities and processes, but also in relation to their people.”

The challenges

Traditional editors and publishers were seeing their established world shifting into a more dynamic and fast-paced environment, and were now facing the challenge of online self-publishing authors. Bright young interns were joining, staying for a year or so but feeling that they couldn’t progress, and so leaving to go to the competitor publishing houses. Distribution and warehousing faced moving to an increasingly automated environment and new competitors like Amazon were challenging their proven distribution model. One solution alone wouldn’t fit all these multi-dimensional changes.

The solutions

For this three-year project, we partnered with multiple divisions of their organisation:

  • Transworld Publishing: For this division, we were asked for our support to engage the entire workforce to think about the direction of the business. Through a programme ‘Future Transworld’ using a blend of online surveys and face-to-face workshops built on horizons scanning principles, we helped the organisation to face the digital publishing challenge and take ownership by proactively staying ahead of the curve.
  • Penguin Random House: As the two well-known brands merged, we worked with both workforces to ensure they retained what was unique about their separate cultures but also how to create a shared identity. Through a blend of change and careers initiatives focused on maintaining engagement, we have provided both managers and individuals with the tools needed to stay focused and continue to deliver great work.
  • TBS Distribution: Using a blend of 1:1 coaching and group workshops, we supported this more traditional part of the organisation as it shifted through an intense change from a mainly manual operation to a fully automated service.

The results

Sandra concludes, “Change has become just part of everyday life in Penguin Random House, but now people have the resilience and skills not just to cope, but to thrive. It’s been great to be part of an ongoing programme that has clearly had an impact on people at all levels across the organisation.”

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