How the Book Came to Be

I am pleased to introduce our second guest blogger, my daughter Mary Ann Beyster, who serves as President of the Foundation for Enterprise Development. Mary Ann took some time recently to answer questions about her role in bringing my book The SAIC Solution to life. Without Mary Ann’s dedicated support and hard work, I don’t think the book would have happened. I’ll let Mary Ann pick it up from here.

* * *

Thanks, Dad. When we first discussed doing this book, I really had no idea exactly what would be involved. I knew it would not be an easy task, but I didn’t know just how much work it would be. We were very fortunate to start with something essential–an interesting story. Next, Dad’s okay to move forward — although not an enthusiastic okay at first. Within a couple of months, we found a local writer with the unique combination of first-hand familiarity with SAIC and our customers, and first-hand familiarity with the business publishing world. We also had the active support and cooperation of SAIC, and of many of my father’s colleagues and coworkers — past and present. It is my belief that if any one of these ingredients had been missing, The SAIC Solution would never have been written or published. But we did have all these ingredients — at the right time, and in the right proportions — and I am very pleased with the result.

In the interview that follows, I answered questions about how the idea for the book came about, the challenges we faced, technologies we used and didn’t use, and the lessons we learned. It’s my hope that you’ll gain a better understanding of how the process worked, and that you’ll appreciate the hard work that went into it. I would personally like to take time to thank everyone who helped throughout — especially those of you who agreed to participate in interviews, who participated on the manuscript red teams, and who supported our efforts within SAIC. The credit for much of the success of this effort belongs with you. Please post your responses to the blog if this interview brings any additional questions to mind.

Q: Where did the idea for the SAIC solution come from?

A: The idea of a book about SAIC is not a new idea — there was an attempt to write such a book about seven years ago. The focus then was the 30-year anniversary of the company, and that book was to be a chronological history. It was never finalized or published.

Q: Why wasn’t it published?

A: I heard a lot of different reasons for that. It was a very thorough project and well researched, and it was a detailed chronology. The idea of doing a book just wasn’t on anybody’s radar screen because it was going to be such a big project. Dad would need to be very engaged too. He had a lot of other things on his mind in 2000′s, and he retired in 2004. Whatever the reason, it was decided to not publish it, and the idea of writing a book went away. The re-emergence of the book idea came around the fall of 2005, after I joined the Foundation as President.

Q: So, why this book? Why now?

A: Dad was looking for things to do that would be interesting. I looked around to see what we could do, what would be valuable to do at the Foundation, and how we could support the Beyster Institute. I had some discussions with my father and asked, “Why don’t you revisit the book idea and get down on paper how you ran the company, why you started it, and what you thought was special? Tell the story, and stay away from a chronological approach.” He was willing to explore the idea of a book. The idea was to use a book as a means to share the SAIC story with others for historical purposes but, more importantly, to see if others could learn from his experience. Many of his friends encouraged him to proceed with the book.

Q: What sparked you to take action?

A: I think one small step forward leads to another small step forward. One of the first small steps forward was finding a co-author to work with my father. We wouldn’t have been able to do this just on our own. I talked to Ray Smilor, Executive Director of the Beyster Institute, and I talked to a few other people about how they’ve approached books and who they wrote them with. I relied heavily on Ray’s recommendation, and there were a number of other people that we were going to contact about being an author. We knew that it had to be somebody that understood the industry, somebody that would be patient, who would be working closely with my father, wouldn’t overwhelm the book process and the direction of it. We wanted this to be my father’s point of view, not someone else’s. When we brought you on to work with my father on a book proposal, we made our first significant step forward. Then it was, okay, let’s start with the next small step — which was let’s see if you could work with my father on writing an outline. It was a huge challenge just to describe what the book was going to be about. How is it going to be structured? What are the themes? You made it through the outline process and created a great book proposal.

Click here to go to the FED web site, where you’ll find the rest of this interview under the “News and Events” heading.


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