This series has covered various topics of creating The ASTD Leadership Handbook. How do you get started? What’s more important authors or content? How can you ensure practicality? This week let’s consider how a leadership handbook can be high quality—be the best that it can be.
How Can You Ensure Quality?
Those of you who know my work, know that quality is extremely important to me. Quality should be high on your list of everything you do—first, last, and everything in between. The Handbook will be written by well known gurus (Hesselbein, Blanchard, and Collins), include topics that are intriguing (“Leading Across Generations” and “Leading in Difficult Times”), and present tools that are practical (surveys, checklists, and assessment plans). This level of excellence must exude quality.
As you can imagine the quality question is one that permeates everything that we do with this handbook. Here is our three-step plan to ensure that the practical and exciting content is high quality through and through.
Three Steps to Quality
To ensure quality, you need to start with a plan. Here are our three steps to quality.
Step 1: Set clear guidelines. Like any task, provide authors with clear expectations. Not just the logistics, such as length, font size, and layout, but also what they might cover in their content. Ensure that you are very clear about deadlines and don’t set them too far out. It doesn’t take long to write a chapter—especially if they are the experts, like our authors. Set a short deadline—that is close to their acceptance.
Step 2: Start with the best. If you don’t begin with excellent ingredients right from the start whether you are baking a pie, building a house, or writing a book, it is nearly impossible to produce a high-quality product in the end. The authors for The ASTD Leadership Handbook are the best in class. They were selected because they are experts in the topic area they represent in The Handbook.
Step 3: Stay organized. Quality is for the reader’s benefit. As I have worked through this project I kept the reader in mind. For example, the reader needs to be able to easily and quickly find things in The Handbook. I planned the chapter topics and then placed them in five logical sections. I ensured that the titles say what the chapter is about. I am working with Tora Estep, my most trusted editor from ASTD. Together we will ensure that every chapter is written clearly and error free. We’ll ensure that you have a reading list if you want to explore more about a topic. And finally, we will create an index that helps you easily locate content.
But quality doesn’t end with the publication date. It goes on. The website that will be dedicated to this book provides an opportunity for continuous process improvement—a key to quality. Authors will have an opportunity to update their chapters or the tools they have posted as they discover new and better ideas and processes related to their chapters.
As you can see quality is built into The ASTD Leadership Handbook. It is indeed the foundation of this project.
Next Up: What’s It Like to Work with a Guru Group?
- What’s it like to work with the gurus of our profession?
- How does it feel to review the work of famous authors?
- How do you manage folks with more important things to do than write a chapter for your book?
Check back next week for the answers.