Big Agile Book Structure
Last Updated on Friday, 16 November 2012 12:50 Written by Mike Cottmeyer Monday, 7 September 2009 12:27
I’ve been consumed lately thinking through the story our book is going to tell. Great stories have a beginning… something that gets the reader hooked. They have a middle where the reader gets some background and begins to develop a relationship with the characters… they begin to care. Great stories have a climax and a resolution… that place where the drama reaches its peak and everything gets packaged up neatly in the end.
When I’m reading a good book… I always wonder if the author knew exactly where they were taking the characters when they started… or if the whole thing was just an emergent stream of consciousness? I’d have to figure it can go either way… depending on that writers individual style and approach to book writing. Since this is my first book… I don’t know that I have a style yet… but I am definitely gravitating toward the more purposeful approach.
If you spend more than a few minutes with me… you’ll find pretty quick that I am a big picture guy. I’ll do the details with you… but only after I have a framework to hang them on. I have to understand the big picture first so all those details have a place to live… an anchor point… in my brain. My learning style is heavily dependent on pattern recognition so I get impatient if I don’t have a pattern to understand what is relevant and what isn’t.
Just a quick aside… if you write a blog post and I can’t tell what you are talking about within the first few sentences… chances are I won’t finish your post… just sayin’
Images Courtesy of Jeff Patton
Anyway… because I will probably assume that everyone else’s brain works the same way… or maybe just because I need to be able to understand my own book… the structure of the book is really important to me. I’ve gotta have a place to hang all the details. To that end… I see three primary sections in our final manuscript. The first section will tell the entire adoption and scaling story. If you read these first few chapters… you’ll have the big picture… all you need to give the details a home.
Next… we’ll get into the real meat behind our model. There will be a subsection for each of the five adoption phases. Each section will describe the problem… the common challenges… and who will likely care about the things we are going to talk about. After that we’ll explain the relevant capabilities in pretty good detail and suggest several practices that might be effective developing the capability.
We want to address how the organization facilitates the conversations by talking through a pretty detailed capability analysis model. We’ll then deal with common risks and impediments that might get in your way. I imagine that each subsection will end with a discussion… maybe a case study… that ties everything together and highlights the key learning outcomes for the manager and the organization. We might add a few tables explicitly mapping capabilities to practices to help out all those folks out there that like to think in pictures.
Finally… we’ll close the book with a section that wraps up the entire story. I think we’ll have a few closing chapters… maybe appendices… that talk about several tooling approaches we’ve used to enable these kinds of conversations… and maybe even some discussion around advanced applications of our approach.
So there goes… a beginning… a middle… and an end. Any feedback?Learn More