Changing the business operations at Forbes

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Lewis Dvorkin, the chief product officer at Forbes, writes about how company CEO Mike Perlis has changed the business magazine’s operations in the two years he has been running the company.

Dvorkin writes, “He methodically and carefully set out to dismantle the rigid structures and the leftover, but still entrenched, thinking from a bygone era. He started by removing what he dislikes the most — the silos that every traditional media company loves to live within. At first, that meant some pretty difficult personnel decisions to prepare the way for new talent, from both inside and outside FORBES. Then came quarterly Town Hall gatherings, unheard of at FORBES. After that, a company-wide FORBES 40 group of managers was assembled (not easy given the inevitable people considerations). At regular gatherings, each person gets the chair and everyone is charged with sharing what went on with the rest of the organization. Next, Mike set up product and Web site traffic meetings that busted barriers at the top. A few weeks back, I was sitting in a room with him and the leads from sales, technology, finance and product (never the best of friends, good times or bad) to solve a revenue challenge. In a free-flowing 90 minutes, ideas were discussed, rejected, then agreed upon, approved and put into action.

“Nearly everyone in that meeting had a different role within our company less than a year ago. Turmoil in the marketplace was viewed as an opportunity for change, not paralysis or retreat. Our chief  technology officer spends far more time cracking the world of programmatic buying, with the necessary resources and ad inventory to make a difference. A new chief financial officer is as much a company strategist as a number cruncher. We now have an SVP in sales who completely focuses on developing new ad products — with a staff of brand producers that is unique in the industry. And our chief revenue officer runs a sales department built for the era of modern media. (Our new chief operating officer, plucked from outside FORBES, was off somewhere focused on brand extensions. My favorite: licensing our unique publishing platform).

“Mike has a phrase — ‘equality of content.’ I love that one because it’s a version of the line I use — ‘content is content.’ Each is all about breaking down a different kind of barrier — the century-old silo that journalists built to cordon off messages from marketers. Two years ago, we launched BrandVoice, an industry leading ad product that enables marketers, fully identified and labeled, to publish content on our platforms alongside knowledgeable staff members and contributors. Back then, it was a bit of a stepchild. Today, the sales, marketing and communication teams are perfectly aligned to focus on BrandVoice as it becomes synonymous with native advertising, the most talked about trend in advertising.”

Read more here.