February 23, 2005

News & Opinion: Why write the book?

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 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.

About Dylan Schleicher

Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.