It has been a little while since I posted here. Without specifically or consciously intending to, I’ve spent the summer shifting away from many of my projects. That has been partly due to circumstances—a couple of new client projects have started up that required an initial intensity of effort to get launched and build traction. I spent some time working on a much larger writing project that I’m incredibly proud of (and will be able to share soon) but was quite intensive. It has also provided the opportunity to step back and take stock of where I am and what I am focusing on.
The experience is a little bittersweet. For the last couple of years I have been able to build and maintain a fairly regular update schedule on the newsletter. In 2020 and 2021 I managed to steadily increase the regularity with which I posted here, and got a weekly newsletter out most weeks. This year, I made the intentional decision to shift from a weekly to bi-weekly update period, in order to make space for some other projects I wanted to give my attention.
Starting a new project always requires investment and effort. It takes time to find a rhythm. It is work to figure out your voice. It’s important to understand the audience you are speaking to, how you are hoping to reach them, and the content that will best do that. It’s never going to be perfect at the outset.
Letting go of that perfectionism is its own challenge. When I start a project, I very often have a pretty comprehensive vision of what I am trying to do, why I think it is important and what a successful outcome looks like. When what gets produced doesn’t fully measure up to that expectation, it can be frustrating.
Dissatisfaction with the gap between hopes and reality is a common feeling, and I am by no means alone in experiencing it. It is abundantly normal, and to be expected. On any new project, you may be stretching boundaries. Learning new skills. You might be exploring new forms of expression and new ways of delivering results. You also might be trying out new technologies, exploring new platforms and figuring out new techniques.
This has been essentially my experience in working through the launch of StrategyBooks this year. It was a new project I conceived of late last year, and launched in January. The inspiration for it was severalfold. As part of the Technobility webinar series, one of our most popular and enjoyable episodes has been our end-of-year book wrap-up, something we have delivered now for nine years. I have come to appreciate that there are many under-appreciated books on strategy that haven’t received the credit or visibility that they should. I’ve also been striving to increase the time that I spend reading.
The idea for StrategyBooks, then, seemed pretty much a slam-dunk opportunity. Read more, highlight more of the books that matter (whether new or older), and continue to discuss them throughout the year, rather than just at year-end. What was not to like?
The launch of the series required some work. A new web site and social media account, although the creation and launch of those are not foreign to me. The actual delivery of the content, however, represented something different. I’ve been experimenting with steaming since the onset of the pandemic. I’ve gotten progressively more comfortable being on camera, and managing the streaming experience. The delivery of the content was a little bit new, in that rather than presenting to slides, my approach has been to simply have a conversation about the book. With the exception of reading an excerpt, I’m on camera pretty much the whole time.
I have also needed to get comfortable with a variety of new technologies and platforms. To create opportunities for some interaction—and I hope this continues to grow—I’ve been streaming the actual review live on LinkedIn. That lets me leverage and promote to a much larger existing network of contacts while the series builds its own community. It also brought its own challenges in being able to technically set up. I also record the review, and post it to a new Youtube channel, which has been yet another learning experience.
Overall, getting StrategyBooks up and running has involved navigating a space that is in part familiar and partly brand new. I have now done ten reviews overall, a number that I am quite proud of. Each review has felt a little bit like launching into the unknown, partly because I’m live, partly because I’m not relying on slides to guide the content of what I say and partly because I’m not quite sure how it’s landing and being received. Nonetheless, I’ve been feeling like I have been finding my voice and crystallizing what I want and hope for out of the series, and what I present.
Ironically, the clarity that I have been creating for the other sites I write for has led to some reflection and consideration about what I write here. The writing I do for projectmanagement.com, Municipal World, and my own company web site each have clear purpose and a relatively well defined voice. I’ve also become very comfortable with the focus and content direction of webinars that I do for Technobility, and I have evolved a very clear voice and intention for the monthly Project Headway webinar series. That’s created an interesting question regarding the on-going focus and intent of the writing that I include here.
This has been the default home for my writing for over a decade now. Early subscribers got a lot of information about project management. That has progressed to also explore decision making (with a big tangent investigating the role of agency in the decision making process while I worked on my doctoral thesis). Strategy, leadership, organizational culture, personal development and management practices have all been examined along the way. Sometimes those posts have been short and topical. More often they have been reflective and detailed. That has included some very deep dives over the course of the pandemic, considering possible futures and exploring its impacts on our workplaces, our organizations and ourselves.
Depending upon when you found me or subscribed to the newsletter, you have likely had very different desires or expectations. Many of you are still here, so I can only presume that you’ve continued to be interested in my perspectives and personal take on the world of organizations. Thank you for the continued interest in what I have to say. To all the new subscribers that have signed up in the last few weeks, I also bid you welcome.
It is my intent to continue writing here going forward. I am still targeting the same writing scheduled as I identified at the start of the year, with a hope to have at one meaningful piece of content out at least bi-weekly. I expect my writing here to continue to take on more of a personal tone, as the writing and content I publish elsewhere has found its voice and clarity of purpose.
This might include discussion of some of the challenges I experience working as a consultant. It will also likely respond more to topical issues and events, and their implications for organizations, managers and each of us as individuals making our way in the world. I will endeavour to provide insights, perspectives and observations, but with perhaps a bit more of a personal tone than I have consistently maintained in the past.
I’m excited to be back writing here. Crossing the beginning of September and the Labour Day weekend always feels like a fresh start. Several decades on, I still haven’t shaken the whole “back to school” vibe that this month brings. It is a period of renewal here also, and for me in particular. Happy to be in your inbox, grateful for your continued attention, and welcoming of your own feedback and insights.
I will see you in a couple of weeks.
Good to see you back Mark. Delighted to read your updates.
Thanks and regards,
Mark Mullaly says
Thank you so much, Cathy! I sincerely appreciate it.
It’s good to be back, as well!
Anne F Thomson says
Mark, I have been a long subscriber to your reflections and always enjoy the read and then my reflections on your words.
Mark Mullaly says
Thank you so much, Anne! Thank you for taking the time to let me know, also. I am grateful that you are continuing to find value.