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Client logo, Assouline

Executive summary

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Assouline, an emblem of cultural sophistication in the publishing industry, confronted a significant challenge: a convoluted multi-million dollar-a-year value stream marked by disparate information streams and fragmented workflows established inside asana with poor adoption and support. Over a three-year engagement, the value stream has been significantly clarified, with measurable gains in employee satisfaction and a decrease in missed due dates at multiple stages in the production process. 

Company overview

Assouline, founded in 1994 by Prosper and Martine Assouline, is an independent luxury book publisher, retailer, and lifestyle brand. Headquartered in New York City since 2007, with additional offices in Paris and London, Assouline has grown into a global enterprise. The company operates over a dozen branded boutiques and shop-in-shops in luxury destinations worldwide, including flagship locations like Maison Assouline in London and a boutique at The Plaza Hotel in New York. Assouline collaborates with prestigious brands such as LVMH, Gucci, and Chanel and employs around 200 people globally. Their books are produced in Italy and other parts of Europe, ensuring high craftsmanship. With a strategic international retail presence and robust distribution network, Assouline markets its upscale books and products to an affluent global clientele.

Key results

  1. Reduced Missed Deadlines: Measurable decrease in late or missed due dates at multiple stages in the value stream.
     

  2. Improved Workflow Visibility: Significant improvement in understanding of work status across several departments in the production process. 
     

  3. Enhanced Resource Management: Established transparent and automated resource capacity tracking for crucial departments, helping identify production bottlenecks and facilitating the path for design and creative team growth. 
     

  4. Centralized Information: Centralized essential information and improved the flow of information to critical vendors in the manufacturing processes. 
     

  5. Increased Throughput: We have automated the flow of information between teams when designing, creating, publishing, and marketing new titles, significantly improving throughput times and decreasing missed deadlines and costs associated with reprints or modifications. 

Challenge statement

Assouline, an emblem of cultural sophistication in the publishing industry, confronted a significant challenge: a convoluted production process marked by disparate information streams and fragmented workflows. This complexity delayed the production of goods and weighed heavily on team dynamics and morale. Recognizing the need for a nuanced, structured solution, Assouline engaged Experience Innovation to thoroughly audit their asana usage, aiming to refine their workflow processes and establish a harmonious, integrated system to effectively manage production from ideation to delivery.

Identified solutions

Experience Innovation provided a managed asana optimization and change management program over three years to support Assouline's transformation. The service included:
 

  • Process documentation.

  • Custom asana workflow development.

  • 36-month change management and adoption support program. 

  • Tailored one-on-one sessions with key leaders to customize asana implementation.

Actions

  1. Process Documentation and Optimization: Documented and optimized workflows across all departments involved in production, ensuring transparent, efficient processes.
     

  2. Custom Asana Workflows: Developed custom Asana workflows tailored to match the flow of value across the entire organization. This alignment gave all critical stakeholders visibility into work status and access to real-time data, essential for driving business outcomes.
     

  3. Change Management and Adoption Support: Implemented a 36-month change management and adoption support program to guide Assouline through the transformation, aiding their transition and ensuring sustained improvement.
     

  4. Tailored One-on-One Sessions: Conducted tailored one-on-one sessions with key leaders to customize Asana implementation according to their needs and challenges, ensuring effective utilization and integration.
     

  5. Automated Information Flow: Centralized and automated the flow of information between teams involved in designing, creating, publishing, and marketing new titles. This improvement significantly enhanced throughput times and reduced missed deadlines and costs associated with reprints or modifications.
     

  6. Resource Capacity Tracking: Established transparent and automated resource capacity tracking for crucial departments. This capability helped identify production bottlenecks and facilitated the growth of design and creative teams.

Lessons learned

Reflecting on our engagement with Assouline, we identified the following key learnings.

Full Organizational Adoption: One of the key insights from the engagement with Assouline was the importance of having the entire organization adopt asana. Partial adoption, with some departments in asana and others out, created significant workflow integration and communication challenges. Ensuring all departments are onboard as soon as possible is crucial for smooth and efficient operations.
 

Internal Adoption Alliance: Establishing an internal adoption alliance proved essential for the long-term sustainability of the asana implementation. This group can drive adoption, troubleshoot issues, and reduce reliance on external resources. Although staff constraints with existing workloads may make this difficult, it is highly recommended to facilitate continued success and internal ownership.
 

Complexity of Change: Implementing change in large, globally operating organizations like Assouline is inherently complex. The project underscored the need for a deliberate and focused effort to achieve sustainable results with a prolonged runway. Continuous support and a structured change management approach are vital to navigate the intricacies of organizational transformation and ensure long-term success.

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