July 12, 2012
In early June, our staff gathered at my house for what I called the Editorial Planning Powwow. We needed all hands on deck to hash out not only the equipment topics we want to cover in Foodservice Equipment Reports in 2013, but also the new features and departments we want to see when we launch our redesign in December.
We had all the usual suspects, Robin and Jan Ashton, Pat Elliott and Chris Palmer. Art Director Julie Wilhm drove down from Madison. Our great contributors Janice Cha and Allison Rezendes, both locals, came over and we hooked up with Rich Chrampanis over the phone. We also invited our good friend Scott Hume, former editor of Restaurants & Institutions, because he’s smart and we like him a lot.
The meeting gave us the perfect opportunity to introduce everyone to our new Managing Editor Megan Hernandez. In her first week, she’s proved that she’s an even better editor than we suspected and is remarkably Internet/social-marketing savvy, as well. We are really lucky to have her.
I told everyone to come with two ideas for feature articles and two ideas for new departments—that’s all; we’re all so busy, but I figured two good ideas were easy enough to prepare. I wanted this gathering to be informal, free-flowing and fun.
It was fun. And unbelievably productive. We all had great ideas—a lot more than two each, it turns out. Our group was throwing out suggestions faster than I could write them on the easel. Everyone brought magazines they like, magazines they don’t like, all with post-a-notes popping out the tops and sides. Janice got in touch with chain operator friends she’s covered in her Unit Design articles and asked “What information do you need?” Their responses prompted excellent article ideas.
We talked about surveys we want to create and the stories we’d develop out of them. We came up with new departments and compelling features that are process oriented, people oriented and issue oriented. And we carved out the equipment categories we need to cover and why.
The bottom line is that we are beautifully set up to deliver outstanding content throughout 2012, 2013 and beyond.
Aside from the very practicable results our powwow produced, I value the gathering itself the most. I always knew we have a smart crew, but their enthusiasm and the way they embraced this meeting and the opportunity to shape our magazine really bowled me over.
How often do you get together with the people you work with to just brainstorm? How often do you ask people at every level for their input and ideas? When do you get the chance to really examine what’s working in your organization and what could be improved?
I highly recommend you book a day out of the office, wear jeans, take lunch orders and get down to brainstorming with your colleagues. You won’t believe the results.