Happy Melly Express: A system to make ideas stick and change an organization


CC-BY: Photo by AlicePopkorn

In 2000 I was frustrated. I was a project manager in a software product company, and had just crashed into my first project failure. I knew then, as I do now, that the way we were developing software was wrong. I wanted better, much better.  That’s why I started my search for a method that would allow me to deliver software consistently. No big delays, no quality disasters, the right features. I mean, it can’t be that hard, right?

How did I find that method? I read, and I read a lot. Through the books I read, I found ideas that changed my world, at least my view of it. As you expect, at that time I also read books about many other industries. Not just my industry, the software industry. Surprise, surprise, when I talked about these ideas to others they dismissed me: “That can’t work here” – they said – “we’re different!” (If I only had a € for every time I hear that phrase, I would be a billionaire!)

I realized I needed a system to make good ideas stick and change my organization.

Credibility, the foot in the door for your idea

My problem was simple. No matter how well I implemented the new ideas I got (Lean, Agile, Theory of Constraints, Critical Chain Project Management), I was doomed. My work depended on other people’s work as well. Me being better was no help to us achieving the results we wanted.

Without those books I read, and recommended to others, my work would have been much harder. I mean, citing Deming in a meeting to support your ideas is a lot better than having no one to refer people to. Do they want to know more about your ideas? Recommend them a book to read. It is good for you, and it is good for them.

But every person is different. Some people liked Deming, others hated him. So I needed more sources. I looked for other authors that explained many of the same ideas, but from a different point of view. This diversity was a treasure for me. It provided the credibility I needed to get some ideas considered, and later – if I was lucky – accepted.

Authority likes stories, tell them success stories

It was no surprise, of course, that my peers accept more readily authors from my industry. And considered them authoritative on the topics they cared about. Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister; Ken Schwaber, Kent Beck, Mary Poppendieck were much more credible than Deming, who worked in Japan (Is that a different continent? Nah, it does not apply here!) or Taiichi Ohno (are you into martial arts?).

I picked all the success stories I could find and wrote about them in my blog. I told those stories to my colleagues to lend authority to the changes I was trying to implement. I got this idea when I saw that “success stories” were being advertised to give authority and credibility to conference talks. Clearly, experience is a winner, when you are trying to convey an idea. And success stories stick! People like the problem solving stories.

Rinse and repeat, how diversity changes the game

Talking about these ideas was easy after I had read about them, made thousands of scribbles in the books (by the way, never buy a used work-related book from me! You won’t like it…), and blogged to clarify my ideas to myself. This had the additional benefit of having others think I was an expert. I wasn’t, I was an apprentice – and still am!

I constantly seek new ideas and different presentations of those same ideas. Why? Because diversity makes ideas grow, improve and – most importantly – stick! The only way to improve my work is to change it – for the better – constantly. That’s my system.

Lately I have been using videos and podcasts as a way to convey these ideas. These are excellent ways to introduce my peers and friends to the concepts I came across. I would like to find more videos with interviews, short animations and tutorials.

In fact, I need a constant stream of high-quality content to support my work as a change agent in organizations.

I am glad that existing publishers invest regularly in new books. But their business model is in conflict with my need for more, and diverse high-quality content. I need more diverse, short and long form content delivered as Videos, Podcasts, Blogs and – of course – books. My world, the world of creative knowledge work, is changing very fast. And ideas are needed to keep up with the pace of change.

Nurturing and growing ideas for your benefit

When I visit conferences, I see many new ideas being discussed. Some of them I explore further and would like to help their authors get them published. I would like to have those ideas explained in a video or podcast. This helps my peers get into the idea. And of course, I would also like books for me to learn more about the idea.

This is why I am working to jump start Happy Melly Express, a new kind of publishing business.

Why business? New ideas need a sustainable business model

Happy Melly Express is a business that exists to make publishing about these ideas sustainable – for all of us. For the authors, for the people who help the author and for you. When you are at work, thinking about how to convey certain ideas to your colleagues, you need an example, you need a support. This is what Happy Melly Express is here to do.

Watch the video below and then go to our crowd funding page. Learn about our first publishing project – support it by purchasing – and then, spread the word. Lets start a publishing business that is made just for you!

Happy Melly has taken the first step in helping you change your work for the better. Now is your turn. Purchase one or more of the crowd funding rewards now and support this mission at the same time!

You can learn more about Happy Melly Express by reading these articles:

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This article is written by Vasco Duarte on October 14th 2013.

You can connect with Vasco Duarte in Google+.