EnsembleIQ operates as an integrated network of 20+ media brands across several core markets, including consumer packaged goods, grocery, drug and convenience retail, private label, technology, pharma and medical.
With the acquisition of five different companies, EnsembleIQ inherited seven offices across two countries, each of which had its own "style" and culture. Some offices were modern, bright with a European design aesthetic. Others were traditional, drab, and organizationally silo'd. Their open-air cubicles made collaboration difficult and stifled discussion and brainstorming. The company felt these offices failed to support the rapidly changing environment of today's business world. As a result, EnsembleIQ is transforming these spaces to encourage a results-oriented work dynamic.
EnsembleIQ closed three offices and integrated teams into four new centralized locations, purchasing sleek, modern cubicles and created a mix of private areas for concentration as well as informal spaces where ideas can be shared and problems resolved collectively.
The company created laid-back discussion spaces and a new Innovation Lab. For the Lab, it turned an unused section of the lunchroom into a bright ideation space with new modern furniture, bright lounge chairs and white board walls. EnsembleIQ items used in client facilitations (koosh balls, post-it notes, markers, and gumball machines) were made available for everyday use.
Increasingly, EnsembleIQ has attempted to break down traditional silo's by developing cross functional SWAT teams. Like a police SWAT team, these teams are designed for rapid deployment, situation assessment, and solution identification. Once the team develops a solution framework, the execution is passed back to the appropriate business lead and the team is disbanded until they are needed for another "mission".
Examples of SWAT teams deployed this year have included:
- Brand communication & employee engagement team
- Strategic, cross-brand content alignment team
- Digital products team
- Emerging brands strategy team
- Events strategy team
Recently, EnsembleIQ extended this model into more permanent organizational structures. For example, when the Digital Products SWAT team identified process inefficiencies, the company created the Digital Center of Excellence.
Like the SWAT team, the Digital Center of Excellence is a cross-functional team but it has a more formalized structure with specific leadership, responsibilities and accountability. The team has developed an overarching strategic framework for how it will develop and go to market with best-in-class digital products. Their authority extends beyond product development and into product marketing, training, sales support, sales accountability and ongoing reporting. The group is co-led by a product development specialist and a sales leader to ensure a closed loop strategy with shared accountability for driving digital growth.
These recent changes, all intended to support collaboration and innovative thinking have been widely embraced by EnsembleIQ employees. The company's new vision, "Solving Big Problems and Inspiring Bold Ideas" has been incorporated into a number of internal and external presentations and marketing materials. The phrase is referenced often in both formal meetings and informal hallway conversations.
The recent design changes are a very visual manifestation of the company's commitment to its new vision. Employees are noticing the changes and are excited about the positive momentum in this direction. There is a palpable sense of excitement as the company begins to focus on (and reward) BOLD thinking that inspires growth.
Why Every Newsroom Needs a Roadmap
Chemical & Engineering News is the world's leading chemistry news organization. Its reporters and editors track the most important news in chemistry and related sciences: the hottest research advances, business and policy trends, chemical safety practices, career guidance, and much more.
C&EN has been published by the American Chemical Society (ACS) since 1923. Millions of chemists, scientists, and chemistry fans visit the website each year. Meanwhile, the weekly print magazine is still going strong, reaching ACS's more than 150,000 members each week. Scientists at more than 1,200 companies and universities around the world have access to C&EN through its institutional product, C&EN Global Enterprise.
Its journalists work fast and smart to cover breaking news and industry trends. But as the news industry has undergone digital transformation, workflows and processes have struggled to keep up.
In 2018, C&EN got serious about not just keeping up, and instead leapt forward to build a newsroom that can grow fast, respond to change, and better serve customers. It went into rapid growth mode, and came out on the other side with structure and process to help teams work better, together, to make the best news products possible.
In just one year, C&EN built a roadmap and a product pipeline, got onboard with project management, convened a user testing group, and adopted a sprint-based product development cycle. It's allowed us to manage C&EN like a startup within a much larger legacy parent company, priming the newsroom for sustainability and growth in a challenging news media environment.
C&EN's 2018 Roadmap aligned the entire newsroom - editorial, design, technology, audience, operations, and sales - around shared goals and targets. Project management tools streamlined communications and track progress against that roadmap, providing unprecedented transparency across teams.
User research and testing by our C&EN Reader Lab is now a keystone of each new product it launches. The product pipeline, product sprints, and rapid-prototyping are allowing C&EN to develop new products more rapidly than ever before.
Developing processes and systems that support goal-setting and prioritization, team alignment, and user experience has allowed us to work better, faster, and smarter--together. The effect on the multidisciplinary team of editors, product managers, developers, and designers who are responsible for bringing new products and features to C&EN readers has been nothing short of transformational. Where there was once years of built-up mistrust, confusion, and siloed communication there is now clarity of purpose, trust, and transparency.
The changes have positioned C&EN as a nimble pilot for improving organizational alignment and speeding product development and innovation -- both at ACS and beyond. For example, C&EN's ACS parent, the ACS Publications division, launched its own roadmap this year. And C&EN Product team members have been invited to talk about the rapid prototyping and user centered design principles it used in the launch of its new paywall both within ACS (at the organization-wide ACS Product Roundtable) and the larger industry (at the 2018 Association Media & Publishing meeting.)