Facing the Strange

June 19, 2017

By Katie Burke

Pomegranate will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. This is a little bit mind-blowing, even for those of us who have been in it for the long haul. On reflection, I’ve been pondering this question: how do we all maintain energy for our jobs without burning out or feeling like we’re continually pushing a Jeff Koons sculpture up a never-ending hill, a la Sisyphus and his rock? Even ardent passion for our profession can wear down against political, social, and economic issues, from within our own institutions to our local communities to the world at large.

The word that comes to mind is adaptability. Sticking to the tried and true can work beautifully—don’t fix it if it ain’t broke—but it can also become a rut. Change—in procedures, in vehicles of communication, in presentation, in content—can keep us engaged and nimble.

Pomegranate had to severely test our adaptability when we moved our offices and warehouse four years ago from the Bay Area in California to Portland, Oregon. This forced us to examine so many parts of how we do business, from recruitment processes to vendor relationships to office configurations. And now, it’s technology’s turn.

If you’ve been a techno-peasant like I’ve been, technological change has not been anywhere near the top of your list of “things I love to check out.” But I’ve been forced to learn, and it’s a good thing. Over the past couple of years, Pomegranate has revised its email system, its document filing system, its hardware setup, and its digital assets management, just for starters. The company is now in the process of implementing an entirely new software system, and all of us at the management level must participate in getting this right.

While I wrangle with understanding my role in this project and struggle to write a detailed analysis of our Product Information Management (in fact, I’m still figuring exactly what that means!), I have noticed that the challenge has not only awakened my curiosity, but has also helped with my creativity and analysis in the established parts of my job. Using my brain in new ways has helped it work better in its “old” ways.

It’s hard to know, sometimes, what isn’t working, just because we are used to doing things the same way for so long. But if we don’t examine those efforts, things will eventually break, and then voilà: crisis mode.

How you communicate internally and outside of your institution (are you still using email as a filing system for all of those friggin’ attachments?), how you and your staff share information and ideas, how you keep track of your multitudinous tasks daily, weekly, monthly—there are so many tools out there (and many cost nothing) to help you move your business forward, for better efficiency, less stress, and new brainwaves!

Now, cue up David Bowie’s “Changes” and turn and face the strange. Dancing helps, too.


Zoe Katherine Burke is the publisher and vice presideSONY DSCnt at Pomegranate Communications, a leading publisher of award-winning book and gift products and longtime MSA member. Pomegranate won the 2017 MSA Recognition Award for Vendor of the Year.

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