Mastering Knowledge and the Writing Process

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My book named Mastering Organizational Knowledge Flow is out. It has been quite a journey from reading an internal article on John Kohl's book The Global English Style Guide that gave me the last little kick to finally get going, to the point when I had my first copy in my hands on March 29th. It was a fun journey, actually. And now it is also available to the first users as well. Really looking forward to the feedback now.

It is hard to describe the feeling when I finally got the real thing in my hand. It still beats the digital version for me, by far. There was another highlight last weekend when I showed the book to my 87 year-old father, whom I dedicated it to. He felt really very good about it.

Why did I write it? There are several reasons:

  • To start, I have a different idea on what it takes to make knowledge sharing work than expressed in many of the books and articles I have been reading which almost completely focus on technology or theoretic models. Market.
  • I have chewed off people's ears with my ideas for years, and I thought it might be easier to pass them along through a book. Convenience.
  • Some of those people also asked me specifically if I had thought about writing it all up. Begging.
  • Then I found SAS Publishing advertising that they would support the process. Compelling Event and Support.

So it finally all came together a little over a year ago.

If you have ever considered writing a book here are, in the true spirit of sharing, a few tips from me:

  • A good support team is essential. SAS Publishing, specifically Stacey Hamilton (@StaceyHamilton), have done a stellar job of getting most obstacles (other than writing) out of my way.
  • Make it a project with a defined start and end, an ambitious but realistic project plan, and somebody like Stacey that is looking over the deadlines. If you give yourself five years, you might never get it done.
  • Do not put your deadlines on a Friday evening. As I was doing the writing/editing in the evenings and on the weekends only, I found out that I often was too tired on Friday evenings so I asked for deadlines to be moved to Saturday afternoon instead. I was much fresher on Saturday morning, and at least it left a little time to take off on Saturday to reward myself for another milestone (usually a chapter or two).
  • Celebrate milestones. I took my wife out for dinner on all major milestones - a treat for myself as well as an appreciation to her as she usually only saw my sparingly-haired head behind my Mac last summer.
  • Stop watching TV. I actually did that even before the book. You need to focus, and these days you can get the important news in other ways that take less time. Still watch a movie on the beamer occasionally, though, but more selectively.
  • Get in the flow. Don't try to make every sentence that you write perfect the first time. Just write like you think, then review and fix it later. If you focus on perfect grammar, spelling and punctuation on a given section you might be disappointed when you will have to rewrite or even throw out that section based on comments.
  • Write for an international audience. Read John Kohl's Global English Style Guide.
  • Give yourself daily goals for the number of words to write. I had a great piece of software (Mac only) that made it really easy to see progress, but you can do that with word counts in Microsoft Word as well. And don't put targets too high - regular small chunks are best. That way you still have time for other things.
  • Be as flexible and open as you can be to changes (like the cover) and to comments. It doesn't mean that you can't be firm with your ideas. In the end it is mostly your decision, but acknowledge that editors and reviewers have reasons why they propose or ask for a change.
  • Motivate yourself with some early signs of success. A week before I turned in the last chapter you could actually preorder the book at Amazon already. Wow, this was becoming real. And around Christmas when I went through the last reviews, there were many global online booksellers that featured it. From Japan to Germany, from the US to India.
  • Last but not least: Don't wait too long. Just jump!
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Frank Leistner

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