So having been thinking about this over the past couple of weeks, it’s clear that the structure to which I have been working doesn’t fit any longer with the thing that I want to write. But the structure that I have is one that has been attracting some interest from publishers. So can I create something that works for my intended audience, a potential publisher, and for me too?
The existing structure is this:
The main message of the book is introduced: that organisations’ ability to exploit new technology and ideas depends on their ability to play with them to find out what they can make them do; that individuals threatened with career obsolescence through automating technologies also need to adapt new styles of play to survive and thrive.
Section 1: Why did we stop playing?
This section points the finger at scientific management, and explores how it has been resurrected in large part because of the technologies to which companies and individuals are now struggling to adapt.
Chapter 1. The reanimation of scientific management
In which we learn about the Taylorist models of industrialization and goes they’ve taken over white collar work; about how it works for production lines but not so clear for knowledge work; about how it is questionable for the use of communications technology (as opposed to process-centric IT systems).
Chapter 2. The nature of learning
In which we learn about how humans learn – cycles of doing, reflecting and theorizing. Kolb’s learning cycle.
Chapter 3. Agile in name alone
In which we learn about agile, lean, gamification and the nature of cargo cults – output focus and the problems of not understanding the journey but the destination.
Section 2: playing on your own
Play as an individual skill set that enables better working, and continuous evolution of what we do in response to the changing world in which we find ourselves.
Chapter 4. The combed-shaped human
In which we learn to take time to do things we don’t usually do, to apply our knowledge to novel circumstances.
Chapter 5. Fire fighting syndrome
In which we learn how to overcome the barriers to play
Chapter 6. Engineering serendipity
In which we learn how to generate more chances for the serendipitous events that are likely to lead to good ideas.
Section 3: Learning to play with others
Play as a collaborative team activity to help describe how organisations can take advantage.
Chapter 7. Banning failure
In which we learn about the world of media and portfolios of risk.
Chapter 8. Structured play
In which we learn about open innovation models.
Chapter 9. How to cheat
In which we learn about the acquisition route to play.
Chapter 10. In which we pull it all together
Practical next steps from the stories we’ve heard that can help individuals and organisations get a better balance in their styles of play.
Re-reading this for the first time in a few months a few things strike me about this. It’s OK, but I realise that I was planning the book in the way in which I would plan a training course. Everything has some sort of deterministic output, which is fine for a training course. But if I’m serious about creating something that is more of a journey, there is no ongoing narrative: the story is the first few chapters and then it turns into a manual.
That’s not the book I want to write.
And, moreover, the definitions got shorter and shorter as I went on, and that I think in hindsight is a reflection on me trying to pad out an idea that could be expressed in a short essay. A few blog posts, even.
There’s some good bits in there, but I need to rethink it with a story line, rather than just a glorified instruction manual. At that point I might then decide that the original is still the best way to go. Tomorrow’s task – the new structure.