Go to...

The Forest Through the Trees

Zombie PM WebsiteI’m coming down to the wire on the first installment of my Zombie Project Management book.  I look at my Kanban and all of the activities are one-by-one making it into the Done column.  It’s actually quite exciting!

I think back to reading several of Seth Godin’s books and him writing “Pick a budget. Pick a ship date. Honor both. Don’t ignore either. No slippage, no overruns.”

I know that is easier said than done.  But halfway through writing my book I saw the forest through the trees.  This idiom personified what I’m trying to communicate.  I became a “writing” zombie.  I thought of those who came before me, puting pen to paper.  They had ideas but how many were able to actually offer their works to the general public?  What roadblocks stopped them from making their dream a reality?  To just accept the status quo without question is your first step to becoming a zombie.

Something in the book publishing business didn’t seem right to me.  I didn’t know what was bothering me until recently.  See, I don’t like to ask permission and I don’t like inefficient processes.  If a process doesn’t seem to make sense to me, I want to change it.

Lightbulb Moment

Doesn’t the book publishing process sound a lot more Waterfall than Agile?
As the Product Owner, I take issue with that.
  • Step one was to not ask for permission.  I decided to use Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.
  • Step two was to pick a ship date and ship whatever I thought would have the greatest value first.
  • Step three is to ship more content, once a month, until I feel the body of work is comlete.
Why release the book in a series of sections or chapters rather than the entire book at once?  You all know I’m a strong proponent of Agile approaches.  When I looked at the publishing process, I compared it to tradition project management methods.  Traditionally, you plan it all out, you build, and then deliver the finalized product.  One thing I’ve learned is you can deliver value earlier, if you establish a series of deadlines and ship something at each deadline.  In that way, you lower your risk of not reaching your overall goal, by ensuring you deliver something regularly.  This will also allow you to produce something of value others can benefit from, at a lower cost.  One of my favorite books, Agile Project Management with Scrum by Ken Schwaber, has 9 chapters and 155 pages.  When I purchased the book at a Borders bookstore some 6 years ago, it cost me $39.99.  Though I recognize the value in reading a physical book cover to cover, I would now be willing to purchase an electronic version of the book, by the chapter.  Give me the chapters of greatest value first at a price relative its cost of production.  At $39.99, each chapter would have cost me just under $4.45.

 

So, with that in mind, I will “ship” a series of sections or chapters each month for $2.99.  I may even bundle a few chapters at a time and offer them as printed copies.

 

HT: Zombie drawings by Pictofigo
HT: Zombie PM website

Yes, the link to the Scrum book by Ken Schwaber is an Amazon affiliate link.

About Derek Huether

I'm Vice President of Enterprise Engagements at LeadingAgile. I'm super focused on results. But I also take the hand waving out of organizational transformations. I come from a traditional PM background but I don't give points for stuff done behind the scenes. The only thing that counts is what you get done and delivered. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon)

2 Responses to “The Forest Through the Trees”

  1. April 15, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Hey Derek… another “Agile” way to ship your book would be to do it “Angry Birds Rio”-style.

    Have the buyers pay for the whole thing NOW, but only ship Chapters 1 and 2, and then release another one every month.

    • Anonymous
      April 15, 2011 at 7:18 pm

      That’s actually a really good idea! I’m working on the next iteration now. Again, I think you offer a very good idea. But, so many people judge a book by its cover. It’s different with digital goods. The challenge I have is delivering digital goods is easy for me to do on a monthly basis. Printing hard copies seems so……final.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *