Thursday, October 18, 2018

Case Study: Writing a Book

This case study applies to writing a book. You can also use this for any large personal project.


I want to share with you a case study on how to use the change planning model and today’s case study really applies to projects that you want to start for yourself. In this particular instance, for me, it’s writing a book, so there’s four passes to this model and what we’re doing is we’re going through all four quadrants and the quadrants are:

– I as in how the change impacts me.

– We how the change impacts how I relate to others.

– It the impact on other people, so putting myself in their shoes

– It’s which is all the materials and systems.

In the center of the model is the change or the activity that I wish to pursue. Write a book. The next thing I do is identify why I’m doing it and this is really important because by having really solid why helps you go through the challenges that invariably occur when you’re doing a big project and it helps you make decisions in terms of which paths to take. In book writing, I’ve learned that there’s essentially three big reasons why people write a book, one is to make money, which is always a nice thing to do, two is to share expertise, and three is as a freemium or just to get it out there and build your list. A lot of people use short books to build a list.

In my case, I’m using this as an expertise sharing exercise. Yes, making money would be great. I hope to, but it’s really more important to me to share my expertise and to do so in a way that’s more organized than 12 years of blog post. The first two passes I’m going to make will be the short term impact and the long-term impact.

When I’m looking at a project, the short term impact is – what changes I need to make immediately to make space to make this happen. Also the short term impact on others. I will pursue at least a high level version of this anytime anything I’m doing is going to impact someone else.

There’s two reasons for that. One is I want to make sure that I accommodate the needs of the people that are important to me in my life because I am going to be asking something of them. The second is because oftentimes when projects and changes get derailed, it’s because of the reactions of others. Surfacing, some of that is a really good idea for risk mitigation.

The second pass that I’m going to make is long-term impact because even with things like books or other projects like building a website, there is an operational component that you’re going to need to consider. How is this going to impact your life? I’ve learned even something that appears to be one and done like, “I’ll just go up and post the website,” often you need to update it.

There is a marketing component for those of us who are entrepreneurs or solopreneurs. Considering what the long-term impact of what you’re doing is going to be really important.

First two passes, um, and I would have done something really fancy with moving stuff in (with the PowerPoint). This section took me about five minutes. When I look at the impact on myself, short term, I just need to sit down and create the project plan to write the thing. It’s essentially setting aside time to do the work.

There is a mindset, a couple mindset and belief shifts that need to occur to. One, for me, is the belief that “I am an author” and I see that as being different than “I am a writer” of because “I’m a writer” is the act of writing.

I’ve been blogging for 12 years. I’m a blogger, but “I am an author” tells me in the back of my head that I am writing a book. And so reminding myself that I am capable of doing that is going to be really important.

A mindset shift I need to make is, “I have valuable information.” This is going to be really important because I don’t know about your demons, but my demons tend to be pretty loud and often remind me that “Why am I doing this? Because no one wants to listen to you, Yada, Yada, Yada.” It’s really important to me to … not necessarily quiet that voice, it’s always going to be there … but befriend it and do the things that you’re supposed to do as a healthy person to get stuff done. Because if I listened to that voice all the time, I’d never get anything done.

Another mindset shift that I need to make is reminding myself that completing the deliverable is not the end of the project. One of the things that I found as I transitioned from employee to entrepreneur is a lot of my career was spent finishing a project for a client, throwing it over the wall to the client, and hoping I never heard from them again. The client or the customer was the person who was responsible for getting it out there.

One of the big things that I’ve learned over the past couple of years as an entrepreneur is that – no, the work doesn’t end when I finish this thing. There’s a whole ‘nother phase of work that needs to occur in terms of marketing and sales. Another shift that I need to make is reminding myself that “No, this is the first phase.” Finishing the book is the first phase. There’s still a whole ‘nother phase of things to do for the book to be successful. That’s the I component.

The next place I went to when I wrote this was the We component. This is where I look at my relationships with others, what I’m asking from others, or what I need to model for others. In this case, I’m really doing more of an ask. Whenever you see Ryan (in this demo), he’s my partner. He’s the one most impacted by the stuff that I do. One of the things that I needed to negotiate with him was time and space for doing deep work; as in, time and space where he’s not going to interrupt me. Not because he intends to sabotage me or anything, but just for basic day-to-day stuff like, “Hey babe, are you ready for lunch?” He’s also working from home a lot more frequently. We actually have to work together to find space so I can get work done and so he can get work done. Making sure that we have that conversation and have it regularly and that I’ve maintained really solid boundaries and make very clear in regards to what I’m going to do and expectations for each other is going to be incredibly important.

The other thing that I need to do is to, and okay, I’m going to be the first to admit I’m really lousy at this and any of my friends who were watching this will know this, is to share what I’m doing and why. And also ask for their support help and feedback. This is a change that I need to make because I’m really lousy at asking for help and support, so it will be a good practice for me.

I’m going to go up to the upper right hand quadrant (It). This is the It. If the We is how I’m relating to others and any support or boundaries or expectations that we need to set with each other; then It is how my actions will impact others or how I feel they might react or how I would like them to react to what I’m doing. In a business sense, this really speaks a little bit to one of those stakeholder management grids. Knowing who’s going to be the people who are going against you, who’s going to be your supporters, who do you need to support you that may not be fully bought in yet.

I kinda think of this area as, are there other roles I need from others? Are there skills I need from others? What sort of support do I need from others? In the It section – I need an accountability partner and know this is something, thankfully that I actually have. A bunch of accountability partners. This is going to help me get this thing done. I am going to work with Ryan to identify what support I need from him. Thankfully he’s very encouraging so it’s probably going to be a five-second conversation. We’ve already had it, but it’s good to know during this process to reiterate. Also (for me to) get clear on how this book is going to help other people because part of the stakeholders is the audience for the book. Making sure I’m clear on what their needs are, how it’s going to help them, and making the appropriate adjustments is going to be key.

The It’s. This is the resources, materials and systems. One of the things I’ve done is that I’ve blocked regular time for writing and content creation. This tends to be early morning. I (also) need to check the effectiveness of my organization. Content management. I tend to write in small chunks, especially because the type of writing I do is nonfiction. It often has a lot of research. Also, when you’re doing large books, it helps to know where your chapters are and know where your outline is. And any material supporting materials like if I’m making charts or pictures. Making sure I know where my knowledge is (and making sure that my knowledge management is) on point.

I’ve done the project management (for this project). Again, this is something where it took me a lot longer to explain this than it took me to actually write this stuff down in the section. I did it in a couple minutes. I have slept on it, done a second pass and I may do a third pass when we’re on this today. It’s good to do it once, sleep on it, and take a look again.

The next pass, now that I’ve done the short-term is long-term. Here I’m really thinking about operations and what this looks like in the long-term. For this particular change, I’ve personally defined long-term as once I’ve gotten the book written. Again, part of this is reminding myself that, “Yes, there’s a whole ‘nother phase after I finished a thing. I’ve got to get out there and market. ”

I need to decide the marketing strategy. I need to decide sales strategy and actually execute it. Sales is not an area I’m terribly comfortable in. It’s a definitely growing edge for me. Making sure I execute on that is going to be key. I also need to determine a process for any needed updates. I know my thinking has evolved on the topic for my book over the past 12 years. There’s a lot more people out there now sharing their expertise on change and change management and how change works. There’s some great neuroscience out there as well. It’s really started surfacing in the past 10 years. I want to make sure that I’ve planned for updates.

One of the things I did, and I did this in italics, is I need to determine the long-term impact on me. I’ve got it in italics because I don’t know what that looks like yet and I’m not sure that’s an area I particularly want to plan or control. I probably need to do some deeper thinking on it. I’ve never been here before. I’ve never written a book before. I’ve never marketed a book before. I know I’m looking to build expertise; share my expertise. I don’t know what this looks like in practice. The mindset I still need to maintain long-term is “I have valuable information to share” and a belief that I need to maintain long-term is “People like my work and want to get to know me better.” This is really important for me because (again, my friends will know this) if I am left to my own devices, I’m a hermit and deep introvert. I think this is going to be very important – just remembering that the vast majority of people have good intentions. I know this from experience and I forget this pretty frequently. I let the Gremlins in my head tell me that people are terrible. (Assuming good intentions) is a belief that’s going to be very important for me to keep.

In the We section long-term, one of the things that Ryan and I need to negotiate, particularly as I share my expertise in various ways as a result of the book, is to negotiate boundaries around travel. How long I’m away from home. Things that will and won’t work for him in regards to that. What he needs from me. What I need from him. Again, this is in italics because I don’t know what the long-term impact is going to be. I do know that there is going to be travel and some demands on my time that haven’t been there for the past couple of years.

Then We, in terms of interacting with others, and this is everybody outside of my relationship with Ryan, family, friends, professional colleagues, people I meet. What’s really important is to maintain humility. I’ve learned an awful lot from an awful lot of people and had an awful lot of help. I think this is all really important. Just practicing gratitude just because I’ve been so fortunate to have people helping me on this path, particularly over the past couple of years.

If I’m able to maintain that mindset and really model, I think this is gonna be really helpful. Long-term, I’ve got two things that I need to keep an eye on. One is long-term impact on Ryan. I don’t know what that looks like. And long-term impact on the rest of my family. My family is pretty important to me and I want to make sure that I’m there for them. Again, those are unknowns. It may wind up having me pull the plug if it looks like the long-term impacts are going to be negative. Not necessarily in writing the book and sharing my expertise, but maybe some of the more travel and energy-intensive parts of expertise sharing.

Then some long-term systems that I need to take a look at: my marketing architecture, I have one, it’s going to need to be maintained; sales operations metrics, again, long-term, needs to be maintained in my update process.

At this point with the short-term and the long-term, I have a decision to make as I look at the potential, short-term and long-term impacts. Do I still want to do this thing? I know it’s going to be time consuming. I know that there’s potentially an impact on my family. This is where I also look at the short-term and long-term and think in terms of values. How is this going to impact how I want to show up in the world and the values that I possess? I think with boundaries I’ll be okay. If it looks like I cannot be successful and still maintain positive relationships with my family and with Ryan, I’ll have to ratchet this back.

This is a yes and I have already started writing this, obviously. We’re going to see what happens. It’s going to be an adventure. With that decision, I’ve made the yes decision and I know where my risks are and I’m shaping some boundaries around where my outs are. This is really good output for that phase because once I had surfaced any risks or any unknowns, I can go find the information. I can mitigate those risks. I can also come up with contingency plans. I know this sounds really complicated, but it is really useful because things happen in life and knowing what’s really important is going to be incredibly helpful during the journey.

This next phase is the resources that I have. I think it’s really important to do an inventory of what you’ve already got to work with, especially because for many of you, you’ve been in the field a long time, you’ve lived quite a bit of life. You’ve probably done similar things before. I think it’s useful to just reflect back and go, “Okay, what’s a similar that I’ve done?” It might be nothing, but there’s always something you can pull off (your prior experience) because most of us have written status reports. Most of us have done big projects just for ourselves or for other people. Then you can leverage that experience.

You can also think about who your friends are and who your supporters are. Those are the first people that will really help you. That you can lean on. Many of them have expertise possibly in the area in what you’re doing for your project. Also with things in terms of knowing what other material stuff you may have lying around. In this section, in terms of resources: I am writing in an area, I’ve got quite a bit of experience in, I’ve been implementing change for most of my career, and I’ve been implementing involuntary change most of my career. Being able to help people implement change they want to make is really exciting to me and kind of different. The other thing that I’m looking at is – I did write a master’s thesis about 24 years ago. The process is pretty similar. I’ve been using my experience doing that for this particular personal project.

The mindset that I’ve got, which has been incredibly helpful, is, “This is a learning experience.” This is a mindset I already possessed. I’ve possessed it for years, which is awesome. Occasionally I forget that mindset, but it’s pretty easy for me to get back to this at this point. Sometimes after a little bit of thrashing.

The We section. Thankfully I’ve got a partner who’s already very supportive. I just continue talking to him and I’m confirming that everything’s okay. Making sure those lines of communication are open. I’m also very fortunate to have some communities of practice that I’ve been involved in. Some of them for, more than five years. Some of them closer to 10. And some of them for my entire career. They’re really good with providing feedback. They have offered to help. Again, my task is to stay open to their feedback.

I do have resources so people with skills that I can reach out to. I’ve got peers that have written books before. They’ve been really gracious in helping me in terms of the process and things I need to consider. My dad. Fantastic feedback giver, particularly in the area of business. Ryan of course is a pretty good resource just in terms of day to day support for the process.

Then some of the resources I have available to me, and this is the materials and systems. I do have 12 years of blog posts. Many of them are on change. You won’t be seeing the blog posts in the book straight from the blog post. I am doing quite a bit of rewriting. I do have money which is enough to, I mean I’m not wealthy by any stretch, but I do have enough money in the kitty to cover the costs of this effort, which I am amazingly grateful for. Things that I need to succeed. What’s nice about this is if this provides me an inventory.

What are the things I need to go out and get for myself? I need to remind myself. “Beginner’s mind.” I am new at the whole book writing process. Even though I’ve written a Master’s thesis before, I am new at the marketing and sales process. I need to be okay with making mistakes. This is something that, early on, is a good thing for me to practice. I know that this is a practice that, now that this has surfaced, I know I need to be more mindful of. The discipline to follow through on the marketing and sales. Again, introvert. New at marketing, new at sales, hasn’t been my wheelhouse. An area of fear for me. I know to reach out for help with that. Then just belief in myself.

One of my beliefs that I need to make sure that I remind myself of is that I am capable of being a great writer who provides value through my work. This speaks to growth mindset. I may not be a great author or great writer yet, but the key word there is “yet.”

Then (making sure I am) providing value and making sure I’m reaching out and getting feedback. Does this provide value? I think the market will tell me. Then maintaining the mindset, “I’m open to feedback” and reminding myself that people tend to interact with best intentions. Focusing on the people who are interacting with best intentions because I do know that that’s not the entire world.

In terms of the We, I just need Ryan’s continued encouragement. I may need to seek out other communities as well. Asking for feedback and being open to the response. This is going to be a regular practice. I need accountability partners. I think I have some, but it’s always good to have many accountability partners.

Friends and family – what I need from them is understanding around my lack of availability and their encouragement even if they don’t quite understand what I’m doing. I know for me when I say “lack of availability,” I find that when I’m in these really deep mental processes, I sometimes am not nearly as present even if I’m in a room full of people. I’m working on that. I know that for me presence is a terribly imperfect practice right now. If they have understanding around that, and also if they occasionally, “Hey Wendy, are you there?” I think that’ll be a good thing. That will be a very helpful thing for them to give me. I need to have that conversation with people.

Then the It’s. What materials do I need. Thankfully, I have a marketing architecture so I don’t need that. I just need to make sure I keep my schedule blocked and I need more knowledge around and experience around marketing a book and selling a book. That’s pretty much the process.

From talking through this with you, you see some of the outputs that I’m able to use for the project plan and as I go through the project. I don’t have to be nearly as detailed in this project plan. I’m a project manager. That’s how I roll. I do know that I have some conversations I still need to have with people I’m asking for help. I do know that I need to continually make sure that I keep beginner’s mind, stay open to feedback and just remind myself that I am capable of doing this and that I am able to provide value. I’m maintaining boundaries. I do know that that’s something that I’m going to have to be very clear on with the people around me and asking for help if I need it. There’s some really good outputs.

The other thing, too, is this reminds me that I am doing this for expertise sharing. Expertise sharing really has a couple of things. One is, here’s the stuff I know, but also it’s (how do I put this) building that kind of expertise in terms of making myself known as someone who can actually help in this area. That really is secondary to, “Hey, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I hope you find this of value,” and putting this together in a way that people do find value out of it.

That is the book writing. That’s the pass of the Personal Change Planning model in the context of a project. In this case, writing a book. I hope you found this of value Please comment if you have any questions or have anything else that you, that you see or any comments. I’d love to hear from you. Thank you so much.

Change for All Quadrants: Personal Change Planning – is now available for pre-order on Publishizer.
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