We might be the only ones in step – until you join us in Making your work work!

3 January 2014 by in Book publishing

by Jan Gillett, author of Making your work work

January 2nd – I’ve just handed over the marked proof of my book Making your work work: Everyday performance revolution to Rebecca at Infinite Ideas, and it’s a great feeling. My work is pretty much done now, they will enter the modifications, make a few adjustments to the design, and manage the final proofing and indexing. I get to see the final proof in February, then to the printer for publication in March, pretty much exactly on the schedule we agreed months ago.

All that’s great, it’s how their regular work in publishing books runs. I seem to be in step with that, it feels reassuring.

But I’m not quite so reassured about my subject, having just looked at the business section of our bookstore once again. Am I missing something? Am I the only one to think that a book that helps regular people to make ordinary work work properly would sell? Not one of the two hundred or so I can see claims to do that. Lots about hero figures, of academic studies, about a single aspect such as leadership or selling, and finance. But I spent two decades learning about the many aspects that have to be brought together to get consistent results, with little help from my training or guidance from bosses. Then two more decades teaching and helping others, integrating interpersonal aspects with analysis and learning.

We couldn’t find any others who had told this story, so when I was first thinking of writing a book, the absence of even one such potentially competing title was exciting. For there are many people who should be interested in making their work work better: more than a million with a management role in the UK alone. And many many more across the English speaking world. This is a big opportunity.

So now I have completed it, just sixty-odd thousand words, 200 pages. It all flowed logically to me it seemed, and to the friends and colleagues who have reviewed it on the go – thanks, folks. It shows any manager how to make their work work better by observing it in action, focusing it on customer-based aims, starting with small improvements, learning how to standardise and using problems to make permanent improvements. In particular it emphasises a four part model (The System of Profound Knowledge) developed after sixty years of practice by Dr W. Edwards Deming, and his PDSA Cycle for learning how to apply it. No other book that we can find comes close.

It felt natural to write it, and include so many themes we have explored with managers over the years in work as varied as aerospace, mobile phones, shipping, hospitals and so on. I even liked it when I read it again in the course of editing it over the Christmas break. But it still feels a bit odd to be on our own in the market.

So we will try to take advantage of being the only ones in step. Just because there may be only 1 out of 200 business books in the store related to this subject it doesn’t mean that only 0.5% of browsers would find it interesting. Just as Renault found with the Espace, Apple with the iPhone and Fosbury with his high jump, I think we might have a game-changing formula. I hope you will agree.

Perhaps in a year or three the rest of the business world will be in step with us. I hope so. And I hope of course that if you’ve read this far you will buy one on its publication in March (or indeed several … or more!), as I think you will find it helpful.