Friday 30 November 2012

What's on the Cutting Room Floor?

I was excited to see my edited manuscript in my inbox, which kicked off the next step on my path - making publisher edits. My editor said there were no  major changes, which was a relief, but how many edits would there be? There were 152, which isn't that many for a 257 page (52,000 word) book. Or is it?
I felt like a kid getting back a test. Did I pass? I decided to jump in and read through the changes before making the edits. My first impression was that the edit comments were really well written. It makes sense that publishing professionals would be excellent writers but I kept saying, "that's a really good way of explaining the point. This is really well written." Here is a breakdown of edits:

  • Clarification of meaning                 52
  • Reword/word substitution              31
  • Quote source                                 22
  • Formatting                                     13
  • Request to add text                       10
  • Confirm spelling of name               12
  • Define term                                      6
  • Bullet point order                             5
  • Compliment  to the author               1

I was asked to comment on each edit and make changes using Microsoft Word's "track changes" feature. I usually find this way of editing a file to be messy but this was a high-end version which worked really well. There were only five edits I did't make because they would have changed my intended meaning. That seems like a small number and is a sign of amazing editors. 

It took twenty hours to make the changes and by the end of the process I felt I had a personal connection with my editors. The final editing phase was a good one: I had a better manuscript and had learned a few tips on writing. It doesn't matter what's on the cutting room floor. What's left on the table is what counts.


Thursday 22 November 2012

The Long and the Short of It

I started night running last week. It's exciting and a bit dangerous. 

My version of night running involves running in unlit ravines using a headlight to guide me through the pitch black night. Occasionally, I pass lone walkers who aren't visible until my light hits them. Each time I wonder what they are doing walking in the dark. Perhaps they are wondering why a guy is running with a light on his head. It's good to wonder about what you don't understand. 

I got my headlight from the Energizer Night Race, where 1,000 people ran 5 and 10K races to raise money for a local hospital. It was an incredible experience seeing 1,000 points of light moving in unison against a starless sky.

Solo night running is a different experience. The only source of light is on your head and you need to position it well to avoid falling. Loss of visibility leads you off the path and onto unsteady ground. This is the dangerous part.

On my run tonight, it struck me how similar night running is to leading organizations. If your headlight, or focus, is pointed directly in front of you then you can't see what is coming next; if it is pointed  too far in the distance, then you can't see what is immediately in front of you. Both approaches are risky with significant consequences. After some experimentation, night runners and organizations are able to find a sweet spot between short and long-term focus. You need to do both to be successful.  You can't lose sight of where you are going and you must manage what is in front of you along the path. 

As I was thinking of this metaphor I lost focus and went off the path. That's what makes night running and leading organizations exciting and a bit dangerous. 


Thursday 15 November 2012

If He Can Do It So Can I

A universal truth of change management is that leaders must model the new behaviours they ask for before their team members will adopt them. Leaders define organizational cultures through their actions, inspiring people to think "If she can do it so can I." If they don't, however, little will change for the better and some behaviours may change for the worse.

I witnessed this leadership dynamic when I discussed Skyfall, the new James Bond movie, with a friend. He said that Daniel Craig's high level of fitness had inspired him to increase the intensity of his workouts (he's already a rock) and that he downloaded Daniel's Skyfall workout regimen to incorporate into his. 

It had a similar effect on me. Although I hadn't thought of downloading his plan, I did add a few exercises to my morning routine, calling it 'Project Skyfall' (hey, whatever works). When I did search for the Bond workout, I was surprised at how many sites came up - we were not alone. 

Leaders, both at work and in the movies, have huge influence on how people behave. What they do (versus what they say) encourages others to take on mindsets and behaviours that may be new, uncomfortable and difficult to master. 

Leaders who share their challenges adopting behaviours are more inspirational than the ones who do so with ease. James Bond's struggle to get back into shape intensified my "If he can do it so can I" conviction. My additional exercises won't give me Daniel Craig's fitness level, but it will change it for the better, and changing for the better is what counts.


Thursday 8 November 2012

Building a Web Site and Getting It Right

The web site is the hub of my marketing plan. It will be my 24/7 global ambassador, representing my book, consulting company and beliefs on change management. I have to get it right.

So what does getting it right mean? It doesn't mean complex, flashy and promotion-laced; it means simple, easy to navigate and helpful. It has to communicate what I do and how I do it in a way that reflects my personality. 

To prepare for my first meeting with Krishan, a graphic and web designer who is known for crafting organization identities, I took screen shots of internet sites I liked. I deleted them all when I saw the Very Cool Life web site because it demonstrated all of my site requirements better than any of them:

- Simplicity
- Quick loading
- Ease of navigation
- A 'human,' personal feel
- Use of different media including video
- Consistency of format
- Lots of white space
- Generous giveaways
- Good positioning of the owner's book 

Krishan is now mocking-up a test site. My task is to start writing content for the following sections:

- Home
- About
- The Book
- What We Offer
- Contact

I expect that headings and content will change prior to launching my site, which is part of the creative process. The balance between art and science will take a while to get right. The best sign of success will be people effectively and efficiently accessing information. "Simple and easy" are complex and difficult goals.


Friday 2 November 2012

Small Things Aren't So Small After All

You can tell a lot about a company's culture and where it is headed by how it celebrates. This week I had the opportunity to experience a new organization celebrate Halloween. They celebrated it well. Here is what I saw and heard:

- The office was well decorated in all areas
- Most people dressed up
- The CEO and the rest of the leadership team dressed up
- A party was held and everyone who wasn't on a call attended
- Employees were invited to bring their children for "trick or treat"
- Parents got the opportunity to introduce their kids to their colleagues
- The emcee was fun and considerate about the children ("Let's not clap too loudly in case it scares our little ones.")
- There was audience-based voting for best costume contests
- Premium parking spots were raffled off to employees who were nominated by peers for being helpful
- People had a great time and were smiling a lot
- Next year's party is on the 2013 calendar

In a meeting I was facilitating, someone noted that a company's culture is defined by thousands of small things that shape how people feel about the company. Not long afterwards, a person came into the boardroom asking if she could take the team's picture in costume. She wanted to add it to a recruitment brochure with the caption, "Do you want to work for a company like this?" Small things aren't so small after all.