Writing in Public, Too: NaNoWriMo Day 4

writinginpublicHad a great day today! Up, breakfast of yogurt (raspberry with one of those packs of chocolate shavings on top to pour in). Then I was out the door around 10am to go to soccer with the kids. Got to play with them some, and watch them play. Always a good time.

One of them managed to step into something the dog left behind, shortly before departing. That put off plans for a little while, but we bustled off to Target. I carried her  up to a shopping cart, plopped her inside for a ride, and zipped inside. A short while later, she had pink winter boots with fluffy tops that she fell in love with instantly. She approved because they are pink, and have a fluffy top. I approved because they have a good snow-proof liner around the front, so they'll keep her feet warm and dry this winter. Hey, she needed new boots anyway. Why not make lemonade out of those dog-induced "lemons"? :)

After acquiring boots, we went to Friendly's for lunch. It's not my first pick of a place to eat - but it's their favorite. We had a good (if late) lunch, and for probably the first time ever they all agreed to skip ice cream, because our next stop was a movie.

If you haven't seen "Book of Life" yet, it's totally worth the time. If you're six, you'll be tense at the right moments and laugh a lot. If you're a grown up, you'll still most likely love the film for the well-plotted structure, the romance, the excellent story beats, and the great dialogue.

OK, maybe I'm looking at it a little bit like a writer. ;)  But go watch: it's a really good movie.

We had a great time, and I had the kids home around 6pm. A while later, I managed to get in some writing time (finally!) and got in about 500 words before taking a break to watch last Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead" with my SO. We ended up chatting about the episode after - it was an odd one, unusually poor dialogue and acting, and just a weird feel to it overall. It was out of place, like an episode from another show that happened to pop into this one. I've noticed this happening a little whenever the show diverges strongly from the comics, and this episode was another of those "let's make up something and toss it in so we can stretch things out" sort of sidelines.

Not a great writing day, with a lot of other things going on, but a good day anyway.

 

Disruptive Leadership

In other news, Hugh Howey posted an essay to his blog. In it, he talks about how he's implied in the past that "publishing executives were idiots", and says he's wrong - they are good managers, but its their good management that is causing them to make poor decisions right now.

I think he's a little right, and a little wrong.

Ever notice that, during times of war, we tend to jump to following leaders who are fast-paced, quick thinking, and able to make difficult decisions well? War leaders, basically? And then, after the war is over and we've returned to stability, humans tend to retire those leaders, even vilify their actions sometimes.

That's because what makes one a GOOD leader during times of peace and stability often makes one a terrible leader during times of war and disruption - and vice versa.

The same is true for business as for politics. You can have great management - for stable times - which is suddenly inefficient and harmful when the business model finds itself disrupted. Leaders whose mindset is based in retaining the status quo at all costs (because that is where they excel) will make stupid decisions, like colluding illegally with competitors, simply out of desperation to keep things stable.

Likewise, leaders who have a mindset like Jobs or Bezos - who constantly innovate, who foster a tradition of innovation, who are always looking for the next thing, before it becomes necessary - are ideal for times of industry disruption (and often generate that disruption), but would be terrible leaders in a stable business working in a stable industry (unless, of course, they could find a way to disrupt that industry, in which case they would excel...).

The execs working for big publishing are not stupid, and they're not bad at their jobs. But they've grown into their positions through decades of relative stability. Yes, there was a huge merging of distributors back in the early 90s, and indie bookstores collapsed around the same time, being largely replaced by the big chains. But that happened around two decades ago, which means the folks in charge now have had a long time to get used to working as they do.

They're excellent at that role.

But they're having difficulty now because the role of publishing is changing, and they don't have a mindset flexible enough to disrupt the disruptors. Rowling showed she was willing to disrupt Amazon with Pottermore. Apple was able to disrupt Amazon (much to every publisher's benefit, including mine!) by offering 70% rates on ebooks when the industry standard was 50%. But where Amazon has been able to pivot with these disruptions and come out ahead, a less nimble company - one build for stability, instead of thriving on disruption - is less able to do so.

So Howey is partly right, in his analysis. But he's missed the reason why, at times, "good management" can be bad for a business. Because you need the right sort of management for the right business at the right time.

Fiction words today: 500     Fiction words for November: 4600

Blog Words today:: 953     Blog Words for November: 2272