Together Try-It #4: Clear the Cobwebs

Aug 7, 2023

We on on our fourth Together Try-it post over here! You can read our first three here, here, and here. This time, I have a great example from long-time Together Team Member, Maggie, who managed the entire process of getting The Together Teammate written, proofed and ultimately on the shelves very soon. (How meta is it of us to show the process of book creation while showing off parts of the book?!?)

My former manager used to nicely (at least, I think nicely) call me the Queen of Clearing up Murk. While I’m not sure this was a complete compliment at all times, what I know it referred to was ensuring that all complex processes were crystal clear to participants. This was not with the intent of being overly process-y or extra detailed for no reason – it was to ensure we had a path to the outcome that didn’t have multiple people tripping over each other, unclear timelines, or gazillions of documents flying around.

Lucky me, I have some people on my team who are also pretty good at clearing up murk. Let’s peek at one example of how Maggie managed The Together Teammate’s page proof process (for those of you not deeply steeped in the world of publishing, the page proofs are the very final look at the book before it is sent to the printer!). This process is fast-paced and requires a lot of coordination. Thank goodness for Maggie’s instinct to Clear the Cobwebs – with a heavy dose of Owning the Outcome too.

Maggie’s Clearing the Cobwebs email

So, while the page proof email from my publisher was sent to Heidi, Maggie, and me (affectionately known as The Together Group’s editorial side!), Maggie knew she was ultimate Owner of the Outcome (more on that Try-it in a future post), and she jumped right in to Clear the Cobwebs so we could move swiftly and efficiently. Here are a few ways she did this:

  • Laid out a proposed process to the finish line. While we had the ultimate deadline from our publisher, we needed 3-4 sets of eyes on these final page proofs. Maggie stepped back and created a micro-timeline to help us achieve the goal AND sought our agreement on it before we started the work.
  • Created very specific workflows and deadlines. Because the turnaround was very tight, Maggie took a hard look at her own calendar – as well as mine and Heidi’s – and got down to the exact time items needed to be completed. And yes, it was helpful to know I had until 10 AM on June 2, rather than just June 2.
  • Kept it One Click. Maggie was sneaking in a lot of Together Try-its, including making this email a one-stop-shop that could be used throughout the page proof process. She did this by adding hyperlinks and directing us to a Google doc where we could capture all of the edits.
  • Defined the project parameters. In the very last section of Maggie’s email, she wrote out notes such as “Dramatic changes are not possible at this point. . . “ While I technically KNEW this, Maggie was also reminding and reiterating the overall process was it was crystal clear to us. No cobwebs, all clarity.

So, there you have it. In our experience, the most effective Together Teammates look at a process or project and pause to Clear the Cobwebs by laying out detailed timelines, being clear who is responsible for what, and making it easy for those doing the work to complete their tasks. And guess what?! Maggie, Heidi and I met this timeline! Making it possible for this book to be in your hands on schedule in a few weeks!

Do you have any Cobwebs to Clear right now?