An Update From The Writer's Cave

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- 4 min read

This week we are in Qingdao, China, learning from Chinese multinational and ‘bucket list‘ company Haier—and its CEO Zhang Ruimin. As usual, we will share everything we learn here.

But there is another important reason for our visit. Haier will (if it lives up to our high expectations) feature as a case study in our upcoming book—about which it is time for an update!

The initial reasoning

From the moment we started sharing stories of our adventures, many people suggested we write a book. At first, we laughed at the idea. But, we have become persuaded. Why? Three good reasons:

First, we are convinced that sharing unique stories of inspiring workplaces will inspire change in the way others work. Until now, we have used the talks, workshops, and consultancy to share these stories and to increase our impact. The book adds another way to communicate what we have learned, and to an even broader audience.

Second, a book forces us to summarize, condense, and clarify our findings. It allows for a clearer overview of the trends, do’s and don’ts, best practices and myths we discovered. 

Third, we love new challenges. Writing a book certainly is one!

The support

Luckily we are not the only ones who believe in this project. To start, we searched for a Dutch publisher and, to our surprise, found several interested parties. This was before we even had a manuscript! We finally selected Atlas Business Contact as our Dutch publishing house, and have since worked closely with them.

As the next step, we announced our plans in the April 2017 blog-post. And we added a special page to our website so people could sign-up for updates and to receive either a Dutch or English version. We are delighted to announce that over 500 people have already signed up for the book! (If you are one, ‘Thank you!’)

For other languages, several publishers/agents have declared their interest. All this gives us an incredible amount of (mental) support to keep going—and to work a little bit harder on the project. In case you know any publishers interested in publishing the book in other languages than Dutch and English, please put us in touch with them through The more countries to inspire, the better.

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The literature

For more than two years we have been reading like devils the literature on making work more fun. We have created a ‘library’ based on the legacy of our bucket list heroes. The picture above shows just a selection.

This ‘literature study’ was needed to provide us with the foundation (and inspiration) for our book. As Isaac Newton once famously wrote: “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

The structure

Once the ‘literature study’ was done, we developed, with our publisher, a structure for the book. We puzzled for a while, but finally decided to use the ‘8 trends of progressive workplaces’ as the backbone. That’s why our draft table of contents is now as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Purpose & Values
  • Chapter 2: Network of Teams
  • Chapter 3: Supportive Leadership
  • Chapter 4: Freedom & Trust
  • Chapter 5: Experiment & Adapt
  • Chapter 6: Distributed Authority
  • Chapter 7: Radical Transparency
  • Chapter 8: Talents & Mastery
  • Epilogue

This might suggest we are writing a business book. But this is not entirely the case. We also want it to read like an adventure book; one in which readers are invited to share our adventures of the last two years.

We aim to write a book that does not only appeal to workplace fanatics. We aim to reach a wider audience. We aim to reach all those people that feel the need to radically change the way organizations work. Those that are looking for ways to bring about a true workplace revolution.

So, each chapter will include several journeys. It describes our visits to the likes of Tom Peters and Dan Pink.

We hope this approach will reflect not only what we saw, but also our deepening understanding of how to make work more fun.

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The first delay

The chart above displays our progress. We have finished the first four chapters. The others are now being written.

Initial publication was planned for March 2018. But lots of travel in 2017 meant we didn’t do as much writing as we had hoped. The result is we’ve decided to delay publication to September 2018. Sorry for the extra wait…

So, this is our progress so far. After Haier this week, it’s time to go back to ‘the writer’s cave’ in Holland, again. For now, thanks for staying tuned. In case you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here.

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