February 23, 2005

News & Opinion: Why write the book?

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 8:39 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

When starting Neoforma, I was terribly excited by the idea of bringing together a group of talented people to tackle some important challenges. Everything seemed possible and I assumed that being a part of something special would be enough to hold everyone together. And that was true for awhile. Once the company became too large for everyone to communicate with everyone (15-20 people), interesting stuff started to happen. And much of that stuff was not fun.
None of the books I had read prepared me for the complexity of the task of building a strong corporate culture. While my partner and I were more experienced than most of the stereotypical entrepreneurs of the time, and we did many things very well, I made more mistakes than I should have. While our experience was more extreme than most, the issues we faced are universal to startups.
At the time Neoforma was soaring into the spotlight, I was struck by the contrast between our public persona and our private chaos. And I knew through other entrepreneurs I had met that ours was not a unique situation. I decided at that time that I wanted to write the book that I wish I had read before starting the company. So I began saving everything I could get my hands on. After leaving Neoforma, it took me more than a year to sift through the information, establish a timeline and determine what was important and what was irrelevant. Then I had to figure out how to write a book.