Lisa Bodell’s book Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution launches today. We spoke with Lisa on the process of writing and publishing a book. She has a refreshing message that hasn’t gotten out there yet in the business world: in order to create the space for innovative change, you need to simplify and stop old patterns. Kill the Company is a call to arms – now who’s ready to start an innovation revolution?
What inspired you to write a book? Or in other words, why did you embark on this process?
I wanted to write a book because I felt like I had a lot of really great stories from over the years from trying to train executives and leaders to think differently to drive change. So often they tell people to be innovative and to think differently, but it’s so hard for them to do so. The analogy I always give: they keep giving their teams a box of crayons and then they only let people color within the lines. You know the picture you’re going to get, and as a leader that feels very safe. Their job is to manage risk, eliminate costs, meet their numbers, and at the same time, if they’re asked to innovate, these become opposites. So I felt like all the years I was doing this training and going in and doing these executive sessions, I witnessed this problem. We had come up with these tools to actually turn it around and I thought that was really inspiring. People can reach their potential. They can do this. It’s not as complex as you think. And I wanted to show them how.
So, one of the big things about the book that I discovered is that everyone keeps thinking that innovation is this complex thing, but actually the first step in innovation is to simplify and stop, or kill, things that you’re doing in order to create the space for change. And that’s a refreshing message for readers that I didn’t feel had gotten out there yet.
What has been your favorite part of the whole process of writing and publishing a book?
The actual writing process was very fun and cathartic for me because I had always been a creative writer when I was younger. In elementary school I was a creative writer, and that part of you, when you get out into the work world, dies a little bit. And to be able to bring that out again, to be able to be creative in a business setting, that’s what I do all the time, but to be able to do that in a writing and book setting, it really brought out something that I hadn’t touched on in about 20 years. That, personally, was very satisfying to me.
And I also enjoyed the process of all the people that I met, interviewing them for stories, because you always think of executives as serious and a lot of them, when you give them permission, can have a lot of fun. And a title like Kill the Company, they have a lot of fun with it because you’re giving them permission to do something they’re not normally allowed to do. And I enjoyed that.
Have there been any unexpected challenges through the process?
The process of getting the words down exactly how I wanted them. Because we live in a world of sound bites, and writing a book is very different than a world of sound bites, and I wanted to make sure that I had some really pithy takeaways that could be pulled out of this 200+ page book. So there was this constant thing of knowing that we had to put something down in writing, but also write to an audience, or a world, that is very ADD.
How did you adapt to that?
Well, working with Bibliomotion was great. Through call outs, through pithy phrases, through telling stories. There are different ways to get people to learn and remember. And so I really learned to have bullet points, to have catch phrases, to have call out boxes, because I really think that’s how people are learning now—in sound bites and packaged reading, versus flowing, ongoing chapters of thought.
If you could start the whole process over again, would you do anything differently?
Now I know the exact people I want to work with, the people who are perfect for the job and I think that it would go even faster, and I would probably be able to spend more time on the back end on the second time around versus the front end. The front end, the first time you do it you’re figuring it out, but the second time, you’re taking it to the next level. On your first book, you’re learning all the nuance and mechanics on it, but in your next book, you go beyond basics because you know the system now. I’m the kind of person who likes to put all the things around the book, not just the book. So you know we’ve got the website and the video and the toolkit…which together make it come to life so it’s more than just the pages. The second time around, it could be done faster and we could add even more.
What’s next for you Lisa? Any more books in your future?
I’d love to have another book. The reason why we liked the title so much—Kill the Company—and the tool kit, is because it’s not just a publication, it’s a platform. We have lots of different tools: Kill the Company, Kill Stupid Rules, Killer Queries. There’s lots of different ways to create a Killer Company and I think this could be the first book of many.
For more information on Kill the Company or for purchasing details, click here.
For more information on Lisa Bodell, please visit her website.