Inc.'s Editor-in-Chief tells readers how and why the magazine's format has changed.
By now you may have figured out that this issue of Inc. is different from the last one in both appearance and format. I won't bother cataloging the changes, but I do want to take a moment to explain why we made them.
I'll start by telling you about two conversations that helped shape my thinking. The first was one I had with an Inc. 500 CEO about a year ago. He was full of praise for the magazine, which he'd been reading since its early days. But he went on to complain that there was simply too much information around--too many magazines, books, newsletters, special reports, what have you--and, he said, a lot of it was piled up in his office and next to his bed. "If you want to play as big a part in the next 10 years of my life as you have in the past 10," he said, "you'll figure out a way to help me cope with this information instead of just adding to it."
Not long afterward, I paid a visit to writer, designer, and thinker Richard Saul Wurman, the man who invented the term information anxiety. We talked about the effects of having too much information and not enough time, but it was actually another project of his that attracted my attention. Wurman had observed that most U.S. atlases are arranged by state, in alphabetical order, which is convenient for the publisher but not for the traveler. Who, after all, travels from state to state in alphabetical order? So Wurman created a different kind of atlas, one built around the needs of travelers rather than atlas publishers.
What would a magazine look like, I wondered, if it were organized to help readers deal with information overload rather than along conventional magazine lines? We retained William Drenttel and Stephen Doyle of Drenttel Doyle Partners to help us answer the question, which I also posed to our art director, Laura McFadden.
We're determined to find an answer. The simple fact is that the needs of company owners have changed dramatically since Inc. was founded. Back in 1979 there was almost no information available to people who wanted to grow a business. Now there is too much, and it comes from countless sources--banks, universities, and on and on. Some of the information is silly, some is irrelevant, some is ill informed, and some is extraordinarily useful and valuable. The challenge is to separate the wheat from the chaff, which can easily become a full-time job.
We think it should be our full-time job, not yours. We want to serve as your intelligence agents, sorting through the mountains of information to find what's really important to people who are starting and building businesses. With that in mind, we've introduced the changes you see here. Our purpose is to make the magazine more readable, more accessible, and more discriminating. We want Inc. to be a place where you can step back, gain some perspective, and go through the process of distinguishing what's truly urgent--what deserves your time--from what's not.
We've often written about the importance of learning how to cope with changes in the world around us, and this issue of the magazine is no exception. Now it's time for us to practice what we preach. We, too, have to change to remain competitive. You're the ones who will decide how well we do.