Managerial innovation at De Marque

The past few years have seen a number of internal changes at De Marque, the driving force behind Cantook, our ebook distribution platform. Company management had to adapt in order to better deal with day-to-day matters, interspersed with ongoing changes. Christian Roy, Vice-president of technology, recently delivered a presentation about this to members of the Association pour le développement de la recherche et de l’innovation du Québec (ADRIQ). Here’s a summary of what he said.

“No-one gets up in the morning and says, ‘I’m going to innovate today.’” We usually only realize that innovation has happened when we look back. That’s been our company’s experience.”

At De Marque, managerial innovation was reflected in three main forms of adaptation:
1) Project management
The first change was in our project management philosophy. Our practices were strongly influenced by the Agile Software project management methods.

Gestion de projet agile

More specifically, we use the Scrum methodology, which enabled us to reduce the development cycles for our projects so the turnaround time is a mere two weeks. We can therefore to deliver actual new functions to our partners in short timeframes. Our development team meets once every two weeks to set priorities, after which a start-up meeting is held. The remaining four stages of the process – development, assessment, testing and release – then follow.

The short duration of our development cycles means that we can adapt to fast-paced changes in our industry – which is one of our strengths. Some of our partners have already told us that this is why they chose us: for our ability to adapt quickly.

2) Interacting with partners
Rather than a client-supplier relationship, we prefer to use a partnership model, which means that risks and revenues are shared between our partners and ourselves. Our work is based, not on a fixed rate, but on metrics that vary according to the transaction volumes managed by our technology infrastructure. Our philosophy is: We don’t sell time – we sell books!

3) Industry relations
We have wagered that every player in the traditional book market can also play a role in epublishing. Another bet is that all publishers – large or small – need to work together when it comes to technology, in order to break through in the digital world. Our digital distribution platform is accessible to everyone, and each user can benefit from the improvements requested by others.

This was borne out in a recent study carried out by, which was released at Tools of Change in February 2013. The study concludes that publishers must work together on technical aspects in order to reduce the costs and financial risks associated with digital distribution.

Throughout the evolution of our organization, one thing remained obvious: What made it all possible was our decidedly human approach. A quotation from Mark Turrell says it best: “Technology without People doesn’t work. People without Technology doesn’t scale.”

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