By Janet Gilbert, JHUP Staff
I learned to work in groups in Mr. Stephens’s fourth-grade class in public elementary school, where such projects were often assigned by a random call-out from the classroom seating chart. I’ll admit that often, my first reaction to learning my group assignment was to cringe, because doing things with others meant, well, not doing them entirely “my” way. I was shocked and keenly disappointed early—at age nine or ten—to discover that not everyone wants to do a good job on an assigned task. Sometimes people don’t even show up. And frequently, two or three individuals end up shouldering the work of five or six. How discouraging!
But every once in a while I’d experience a stellar group—one that’s organized, creative, responsive, and dedicated. A group wherein everyone improves everyone else’s work, and I gladly say bye-bye to “my way” because I know the end result will be far superior to anything I could imagine on my own. Today, I seek out these groups socially, and can’t help but be thrilled when they occur serendipitously in the workplace. That just happened with the Modern Greek Studies Association—an organization we serve in the journals publishing division.
A team from the journal and its association collaborated with a team here in journals marketing to create a communication timed with the association’s upcoming symposium registration. We put our heads together and brainstormed an amazing group of Greek contacts across academia and art, economics and government. We even decided on a “bridge” theme together after considering several visual options—the metaphor articulated the association’s and the journal’s mission so beautifully, and the inside photo reinforced the past-present connection with a striking urban scene wherein the classic and contemporary collide. In the end, the multifarious objectives of the association and its journal were neatly packaged into a direct response piece, below, and landing web page, here.
Groups that work create great work. I’m grateful to the MGSA, and, of course, to Mr. Stephens, who knew this all along.
Janet Gilbert is a writer and senior coordinator for direct mail and renewals in the Journals Division at Johns Hopkins University Press.