Jonathan is a witty, thoughtful change agent who is an Executive VP at Elsevier and an effective innovator! Having just enjoyed his company and his commentary at our semi-annual Visionaries' meeting, I realized that I there's a good way to bathe myself in Jonathan's optimistic and pragmatic way of approaching problems and exploring issues, by reading his blog: A Wheelbarrow Full of Surprises and being alerted to new posts by his tweets (@jonathanjo).
For example, in our recent meeting, he talked about complex vs. complicated problems. Complicated problems can be broken into bite-size chunks. Complex problems are tougher:
In his blog post on the topic, I found more eludication:
Complex problems are problems with many interdependent variables. There are so many possible combinations of the variables that it hard to see what is going on. The variables are changing all the time as well and so are the interdependencies. Changing in a non-linear fashion makes it very hard to predict what is going to happen. There seem to be many possible solutions and all of them look feasible. The more we work on the problem, the more details we uncover and the more complex it seems to become. And the further away a solution seems to be.
Complicated problems at first sight appear to be similar to complex problems but as we work on them we see the problem becoming simpler, until eventually the problem is solved. However complicated the problem was to start with, we have untangled it and come up with a solution."
Another issue we discussed at great length, since there were many publishers in our group this time, were the changing business models confronting publishers. Many of us aren't very agile when it comes to figuring out the best business model to use. Jonathan was one of many voices who insisted that there is no one model for publishers; rather we need to offer many parallel business models.
Seph Skerritt suggested that the business model falls out when you think about the "job that the customer is trying to do"... Jonathan provides a useful example in his most recent post, in which he frames a "where do I want to take my family camping? scenario:
For my question: "where to go in Colorado?" a guidebook was best for me
For my question: "which site is best to choose at this campsite?" the personal experience of a fellow camper was helpful
What if I created a publishing environment that provides some free information on initial holiday planning, the opportunity to buy a guidebook, and a section where people can share experiences and photo's? There's a good chance I would choose to buy a guidebook that was part of such a system. If all the information was cross-referenced and inter-linked, it would be even more compelling."