Friday, October 21, 2016

Do I really need to write a book?

Last month, I was chatting with Peter Merholz at the Big Design Conference in Dallas. He was there promoting his new book, Org Design for Design Orgs: Building and Managing In-House Teams — an excellent book by the way, and we were talking about how interesting it is that it is still important to write a book to be sought out as a consultant; blog posts are not enough. “You’ve never written a book, have you?”, said Peter, “Why not?” (Interestingly, it was Peter who first asked me years ago why I hadn’t started my own user research firm.)

Should I have written a book by now? Probably, yes. (Should I have started my own user research firm years ago? Again, probably yes.) I certainly have a couple of books in me, but do I really want to urge them out? Is it really true that good blog posts cannot suffice?

Well, without answering those questions (at least for now), let me spend a bit of time proclaiming the merits of reading old blog posts — not just anyone’s, but mine! I’ve written lots about topics such as those Peter addresses in his new book, and though many of those posts have aged a number of years, their relevance remains surprisingly — perhaps disturbingly — high. And what makes my posts particularly valuable is that they present and contrast the experiences and perspectives of many; they are not solely about what I think and have experienced.

For example, consider the topic of design collaboration. Cross-functional collaboration is now highly touted as crucial to successful design, but I know lots of designers who still do their work largely independently. WTF? Some of my blog posts on the importance of collaboration and keys to its success include:
Numerous posts address (additional) characteristics of a good research and design process, something with which many continue to struggle. They include:
But what do you do when you can’t follow an ideal process? I had a conversation about just that about a month ago with a director at a company that strongly touts its ideal process, but can’t always engage in it. I pointed him to, Working “middle out,” an approach which ends up increasing the chances of following a more ideal process in the future.

Multiple obstacles to employing design in the most impactful way can surface. Some of the many posts about such obstacles include:
Each post in the above list also addresses how to deal with such obstacles. Additional posts which do the same include:
The design and positioning of design organizations is still a hot topic, as suggested by the reaction to Peter’s book. Among the posts I’ve written on this topic:
And I’ve authored posts on so much more. Indeed, there is gold to be found in these many blogposts.

Design leadership is a hot topic these days, and many of these posts could form the foundation of a very good book on the topic. But, can’t the blog suffice? Do I really need to write a book?

Well, things would be better organized in a book, and I’d update and extend the posts’ content, and I’d fill in some gaps, and…

OK, maybe I should write a book. But while I do that or consider doing that, look through the lists of posts I've presented above for those that might be of help to you now. Use the tags for help accessing others. As I mentioned earlier, even the older posts continue to be of relevance.

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