Management from the Road: National Novel Writing Month

Nov. 1 marks that time of year when highly ambitious, slightly delusional folks like me take on the self-imposed quest of writing a 50,000-word novel in one month’s time. The challenge is called National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo for short.

As arduous a task as it is, there are many strategies designed to help aspiring participants to complete a novel. These strategies also apply to managing a challenging organization. For example:

  • Set audacious goals. Thousand. Words. In 30 days.
  • Make a plan. Sure, you could jump right in and begin writing the book. But your chance of success increases if you have given thought to your plot, characters, and the rising action needed to move your story to a satisfying conclusion. When faced with a significant task or problem in your organization, the same holds true—you need a plan. What are your goals? Who will help you achieve them? What are the action steps required?
  • Give yourself permission to make a mistake. There is no way to complete a novel in a month if you painstakingly hunt for the perfect word or phrase. The process works best if you focus on creativity and not perfection. In business, measured risk is necessary. Take a chance. Innovate.
  • There’s strength (and other benefits) in numbers. When tackling the mountain that is a 30-day, 50K word novel, little is more motivating than a group of committed people working with you and cheering you on. Together, you are more creative and talented and produce work of a higher quality than you would alone. As a manager, the same thought applies. Your team is your greatest asset.
  • It’s not all or nothing. On Dec. 1, NaNoWriMo participants either shout victory if they reached the finish line or shout victory if there are more words on the page than there were on Nov. 1.

Honor your successes as they come. Didn’t get the grant award? You wrote an amazing application.

A couple of students fail your class, despite your best efforts? Those efforts helped the rest to learn and grow.

Crime statistics for your town fail to decrease at the targeted rate?  Don’t overlook that it did, in fact, decrease. That’s certainly worth celebrating.

Management lessons can be found in the most interesting places. NaNoWriMo is one of them. Care to join me?


Submitted by Robyn-Jay Bage

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