Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Long, busy day. But a good one, as I’m apt to append.

Work was pleasantly busy. I was prepared for grim battle with a document that required much less change than I’d originally thought, so by the end of the day I’d updated half of it. Since I’d thought the document would take me at least the rest of the week, that felt good.

I also bought the first disc of the anime series Kodocha, and listened to the dub. It’s a notoriously difficult dub; the Sana-chan (the protagonist) has huge lines delivered at a pace rivalling that of the Matchbox Car Guy from years back. It takes all the actors a few episodes, but by the end of the disc, they’re doing a good job with their voices. I was pleased.

Tonight was also a meeting of my writer’s group, where I received final comments about one of my stories (which I can now clean up and send off to publishers, yay!). I thoroughly enjoyed myself as we discussed various stories and caught up. I also gave the group copies of my notes for a modern fantasy novel.

Which brings up something I should mention.

Last night, I was utterly unable to go to sleep. This was partly due to readingthe first two-fifths of Ricardo Semler’s Maverick; more on that later. But as I stared at the ceiling, I came to a realization.

For the past month or so, I’ve set aside an hour every night to write. This has been excellent writing exercise, but as I lay in bed I realized that my writing has prevented me from accomplishing important, day-to-day tasks like, oh say, mowing the lawn. Moreover, I’m laying the foundations of two novels now, the Young Adult Novel and the Modern Fantasy Novel. So I have all this time to write novels that I haven’t plotted out yet.

So I’ve decided to cut back on writing for the next month or two. I’ll spend a bit of time each week outlining and brainstorming the two novels, plus writing more of the VR story to stay ahead. But I think this makes a lot more sense than just forging ahead because I’ve decided to set aside that an hour a day for writing. By early to mid September, I should have a solid foundation for each novel, so I can knock together walls and a ceiling in no time.

About Maverick: it’s essentially Semler’s memoir about the history of Semco, a company he inherited from his father. Ricardo didn’t much like the top-down, command-and-control culture, so he began applying democratic principles to the organization: what if, instead of managers deciding on a pension plan, employees could vote for the plan they’d prefer? What if profits were distributed to business units, and they were given complete freedom to share those profits as they wished? What if, every time somebody needed authorization for something, they asked a committe of their peers instead of a boss?

Some things have worked, and some haven’t. Most of them have worked swimmingly. Not only do people stay at Semco, it’s an amazingly profitable business in an extremely difficult business environment (Brazil from the early 1980’s).

Fascinating, and it’s made me think a lot about companies in America. Why are American corporations run like a Soviet economy? It’s a command-and-control organization with a large bureaucracy, in which the lowest level generates the real wealth but that wealth is distributed mainly among the people at the top, most of whom blunder around with Five Year Plans and vague assurances to the public. Heck, there’s even a Secret Cabal in the Board of Directors.

Why not apply democratic principles to the business world? Who’s to say it’s doomed to failure?

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