OMG! We’re writing a book!
As promised, we intend to blog about our process of writing the Minimum Viable Book and this is the first of many posts to come. It felt right to kick off our process with an activity to understand why we want to do this project, so today’s post explains how we captured these insights.
The first workshop
The first activity from our agile toolbox was a post-up brainstorming session which we completed together in Amy’s kitchen. We agreed on a few topics to cover that would help us understand why we want to do this project and what we hope (& fear) the outcomes will be.
The topics we selected:
- Project Drivers: What is driving us to do this project? It’s important to be honest and open about these reasons so we can understand each other’s individual agendas & motivations. In addition to kicking off with complete transparency amongst team members (even if it’s just the two of us!), this exercise also gives us something to refer back to throughout the project to keep us focussed.
- Hopes, Fears & Mitigations: What hopes do we have for ideal outcomes? What are our fears about what could go wrong? Doing this allows us to think about what measures we should put in place to make sure these things don’t happen – that’s the mitigation part.
- Roles: What roles will we need to fulfil? Can these can be achieved by us or other people?
For each topic, we used our trusty Post-Its and Sharpies (two things we are never without) to individually describe an single thought or idea. We then took it in turns to stick them on the wall one by one, discussing each as we went. During this process, we merged any duplicates or similar points and we added anything extra that came to mind.
As our Project Drivers are a critical first step toward defining our book’s content and chapters, we needed to introduce an element of priority for this topic. We used voting to help us decide which ideas were the most important to us and gave ourselves 4 votes each. If we were extra passionate about a particular thought or idea, we could vote for it multiple times.
The results from our post-up brainstorming session were as follows:
- To Develop an agile toolkit | To tell a concise story about agile experiences (3 votes)
- To help us with career opportunities (2 votes)
- To help others understand | To convert others (2 votes)
- To increase our own knowledge (1 vote)
- To explore tools and techniques used by others | To meet good people
- To write a bestseller!
- It generates speaking opportunities
- We meet some great people
- The blog sells the idea of the book
- People will find it useful (the “Ah-ha” moment) / It’s engaging
- It creates some juicy discussions and arguments
Fears | Mitigations
- fear: It’s not researched enough / there’s not enough data
- mitigation: We will conduct multiple workshops and surveys per chapter
- fear: It’s too much to take on
- mitigation: set WIP limits. We’ll agree and make time commitments to the number of meetings per week, hours per month & we’ll set goals
- fear: People think we’re just grandstanding our own opinions (not representing others)
- mitigation: Be open, be data driven and invite conversation
- fear: It becomes a platform for others to grandstand their own ideas
- mitigation: We’ll be upfront about our process & publish house rules for contributors to follow
- fear: We can’t all find a way to work together effectively
- mitigation: We’ll conduct regular retrospective meetings to learn & hone our process as we go
- fear: We don’t reach further than our own networks
- mitigation: We’ll identify other networks in different geographic locations and industries
We plan to do the heavy-MVB-lifting ourselves, so we’ve identified and reserved the role of ‘Editor’ for Amy and Emily.
As editors, these are the things we’ll need to do:
- Blogging on MVB
- Workshop facilitation
- Recruiting (for workshops)
- Marketing (speaking events, guest blogging)
- Talking to publishers
Roles: Professional Help needed
We’ve identified some roles that we might need to consider getting professional help to fulfill:
- Press / PR
- Design for print
A large part of what we find interesting about writing this book is a chance to consult with others about their experiences, so we’ve identified the role of ‘Contributor’. A Contributor can be anyone who is interested in contributing to the book by completing a survey or by attending a workshop. You don’t need to be an expert – we want to hear from agile newbies and/or curious people from all industries.
As a contributor, these are the things we’d like you to do:
- Complete surveys
- Attend workshops and contribute to post-up activities & discussions
- Any other interactions such as conversations, emails and blog comments etc.
We discussed giving contributors a citation and a link to an internet location of their choice in the final book, plus a tea, coffee and the occasional beer to thank them for their time.
If you’d like to contribute in anyway, we’d like to hear from you. Drop us line!
‘Collaborators’ will be people with a bigger stake or commitment to the book, e.g., writing, data or research. We will define and select these roles and people as the project progresses and the needs become more apparent.
So there you go! The first stake in the ground toward our Minimum Viable Book has been placed. In the next post, we’ll be discussing the structure and goals for the MVB chapters, plus the plans for our first Workshop.
Until then, ciao!