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HK Today

Change Is Embedded in Our Culture

Brian Holding

In November, Human Kinetics staff celebrated the career of Yvonne Griffith, who retired after 30 years of service. It is humbling to think about Yvonne’s commitment to HK across a span of time when the company grew from a small print publisher with a handful of employees in Champaign, Illinois, to an international information company with nearly 300 employees around the world.


Yvonne’s career exemplifies a major trait of our corporate culture: change. Our staff like to use this phrase: “We hire flexible people because we don’t want them to get bent out of shape when their jobs change.” Yvonne began her HK career as a typesetter, entering typewriter-generated manuscripts into a Compugraphic machine to create columns of type that were pasted onto pages. She ended her HK career as a graphic designer, working on a Mac to build pages in the Adobe software InDesign for print and pulling XML files from the RSuite content management system to create e-books in multiple formats.


To cope with all the change, Yvonne credits the HK team who worked well together, shared knowledge, and offered problem-solving ideas so “we could all prevail.” This collaboration, continual learning, and problem solving are traits we instill in our staff.


We continue to change. Lynn Davenport, who started at HK as an assistant editor in 1997, was recently promoted to the newly created editorial director position. Lynn oversees the editorial development of all of our divisions’ products and has specific responsibility for the editorial development of our Higher Education and Professional Education Division’s work. Lynn writes later in this issue of HK Today about new ways HK is changing to provide more editorial assistance to authors earlier in the writing process. HK publishes a dizzying array of product types, making it more important than ever that we assist authors throughout the complex process of shaping their content into all appropriate product forms.


HK has also created the content engineering and digital delivery department, which is directed by Steven Calderwood. Steve, too, started his career at HK as an assistant editor. Steve’s new unit was created specifically with flexibility and change in mind, and it has three main responsibilities: to ensure our content management system RSuite can perform the functions necessary to enable HK to maintain a flexible publishing program, to manage the activities involved in delivering our e-books to third-party sellers (such as Apple, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble), and to ensure HK’s e-learning content is effectively delivered. Part of Steve’s mandate is to be aware of innovation in the publishing industry and help HK stay on the leading edge of electronic product delivery. It is unlikely that Yvonne or any other HK employee in 1983 envisioned the day when Human Kinetics would have a department described with the phrases content engineering and digital delivery.


One dimension of our product development process will not change: our practice of evaluating our own performance. When content has been finalized and placed in all appropriate forms, HK staff systematically reviews each specific product to determine what we did well and what we can do better. That process, which has been part of our business since the beginning, will allow us to continue to change for the better.

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