Two years ago, I began thinking of writing my next book. It was five years since the launch of my first, Change with Confidence, and I was itching to record my latest learnings on managing change.
My challenge was that people were reading fewer books or less of the books they bought. A recent survey by Michael Simmons estimated that people only read 20 to 40 percent of the books they purchase. Also, Jellybooks, an analytics company, reported that 60 percent of sample readers only finishing 25 to 50 percent of the e-books they started. I didn’t want to write a book that buyers wouldn’t read.
People’s lives were becoming busier, too. As the frequency and pace of change ramped up even higher, many spoke of having little time for learning after balancing work and personal commitments. As Christopher Shulgan summarized, “What they don’t have is the ability to disconnect from life.” LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report noted that not having time to learn is the number one reason people aren’t acquiring the skills they need. Josh Bersin, a learning and talent management consultant, estimated that “employees take less than 25 minutes of time per week to slow down and learn, one percent of their work time.” My informal polling revealed that many were relying on Google searches and scanning digital media to get the information they needed.
Business authors provided clues to my way forward. Daniel Pink shared that his newsletter subscribers “loved his Pinkcasts [short videos], but wanted the other material to be briefer and more focused.” Seth Godin said, “It’s not an accident that blog posts and tweets are getting shorter. We rarely stick around for the long version.” Chris Brogan framed my challenge with his question, “How much do you make people read?”
My goal was clear: to provide quick and easily digestible advice on overcoming change challenges for people short of time. I looked for examples of books that met this need. In the self-help category, Austin Kleon, Lilly Singh and Michael Bungay Stanier led the way in offering practical advice in simple, enjoyable and easy to read formats.
Kids’ books were another source of education. A Mentalfloss article on the theory behind the Little Golden Books series led me on a quest to learn and adapt attention-grabbing mechanisms used to engage and entice young readers for the harried business reader.
My research was complete. It was time to begin writing. My target readers were those involved in a significant workplace change looking for practical responses to address challenges. I created a topic list by recalling past change initiatives. For each, I dove into defining the “one thing” action I would take to give me 80 percent results in 20 percent of the time – there is no time for perfection. I experimented with content and format options to optimize speed of learning, and feedback from early readers made them more valuable.
This week, I finished Change on the Run: 44 Ways to Survive Workplace Uncertainty. Now, it’s in the hands of my publisher, Page Two. The “pub date” is scheduled for March 2021.
From now until the launch, I am hosting a Change on the Run podcast to share quick tips on how to manage uncertainty at work. Each episode, guests discuss their experiences on the chapter topic they choose and share the “one thing” they would do to address challenges if they were short of time. I also will post each of these chapters on my blog and LinkedIn. In times like these, most of us could use tips on how to manage uncertainty. I know I do. I hope our tips will help you, too.
Here is a link to Change on the Run Podcast: https://change-on-the-run.sounder.fm/. It's also available on Apple Podcasts and coming soon to Spotify and Google Podcasts.