Discipline for improvement, teamwork for innovation

Seemingly taking a cue from competitive sports – as the 2014 Football World Cup opened in Brazil early this week — our favorite readings this issue explore the subjects of discipline for improvement and teamwork for innovation, which are key result areas in today’s competitive and hectic workplace. Discipline, said legendary graphic designer Massimo Vignelli, enables self-improvement and allows us to “offer the best of ourselves to everything around us, including every project on which we work.”  Teamwork through the combination of team members’ “separate splices of genius” can result in a “single work of collective genius” that marks “truly innovative” groups.

Image by umer malik on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0) license.

Image: “Discipline” by umer malik on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0) license.

Our key picks also include bits on communication, particularly how to “manage upward,” how to make e-mail more effective, and why genuine conversations are not guaranteed by having more communication tools (like smartphones) or channels (like social media). We also continue our monitoring of trends in the publishing industry with a look at a content management system and the impact of social media on journalism. A couple of posts offer advice for those who are at career crossroads and are eyeing grad school, among other things.  Finally, we review what makes a “great” editor with the help of three renowned columnists.  Enjoy:

  • Everyone at work, not to mention the world, benefits when team members “bring their intelligence” to work rather than just follow directives or rules.





  • Journalism and publishing professionals will increasingly need to learn how to work content management systems (CMS) as these will eclipse current word processing and layouting tools in use. Here’s a peek at the New York Times’ CMS, Scoop.


  • Are you an editor? What would you consider are the traits of a “great editor”? Is it “being collegial or decisive”, or “being the enemy of clichés and tropes”? Is it “having a spine of steel” or more like “being a great meatloaf”? Let’s hear it from columnists David Carr, Frank Bruni, and Gretchen Morgenson.




  • Finally, for a dose of fun:  You may not be a football fan so you may want instead to check out the Wall Street Journal’s The World Cup of Everything Else and pit the 31 of more than 100 countries that spent three years to qualify for the World Cup on metrics other than football. Sample metrics are: body mass index, life expectancy, Starbucks consumption, etc. If that’s not fun, maybe literary cookie cutters will do it for you. Or maybe this Twitter scavenger hunt will not only put a smile on your face but will inspire you as well.



Ditto is a fortnightly selection of stories on publishing, media, communications, and topics that concern editorial professionals from the most credible sources on the Web. We hope to educate young professional writers and editors about industry standards, breakthroughs, and trends, among other things. Usually, you’ll find news and commentaries in here, but from time to time, we also feature tweets, visuals, games, freebies, and other fun but useful stuff that caught our eye.

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