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case studies

Stories Part 2: Too much, too little, or just right?

Each of the one hundred case studies I wrote was difficult to write. You would think that the ones I personally experienced would have be easier than the ones I researched, but that wasn’t the case. I tried different approaches to make the process easier  from creating a detailed outline to writing quick drafts  but they all required many versions. They were all hard. 


“Just the facts ma’am.”

Initially, I omitted the organizations’ names, which made the stories impersonal, nebulous, and appear censored. It took months and expert feedback to realize that context is critical to learning, especially when presenting how organizations have managed change. 


Also, I struggled with how the reader might view these stories, seeing them as overall critiques of the companies instead of the actions that were taken at a point in time. I decided to make this distinction in my introduction.


Another challenge was finding the “sweet spot” between too much and not enough detail. Too much information bogs down the story and obscures its purpose, and too little makes the story unclear and dull. 


A Writer’s Nightmare

Expert editing has been invaluable to finding the right balance. Questions such as, “Does it really matter that the company has 5,327 employees?” and “So, who won the court case?” have helped me shape the final versions. I expect to revisit my decisions until the ink on my first edition is dry: Is it too much, too little or just right?


Phil

The Best Stories Must Be Told

Have you ever had a belief that slowly changed until it became the opposite to what it was? I have had a few of them, and my most recent one was about the stories I am including in my book. I wanted all of them to come from my personal experiences and it took a lot of thinking to identify 100 stories (two stories per chapter).


Just because you can do something one way doesn’t mean its the best way. Limiting the stories to my experiences meant that some industries, like health care, natural resources, and transportation were missing. Also, most of my experiences have been in packaged goods, which felt skewed. My readers and editor had counselled me to research new stories, and although my mind was in agreement my heart wasn’t – but what about all my exciting adventures? These stories have to be told!


This week, I came around and started researching new stories. I am glad I did. There are so many fascinating scenarios from all continents and industries, where people have made good and bad decisions around change. It is true that change is universal, regardless if you work in a retail group in China or a telecommunications firm in Argentina – change is about people.


Finding relevant stories has been an adventure. Some I found quickly and others took more than half a day. The search can be discouraging but when you hit the jackpot it’s worth it. The secret is to never give up. Never.


I thought of sharing some of the stories here but I think it’s best to wait for the book. They are worth the wait. Phil

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