Happy One Year Bookday

Dear Collaborations of Consequence,

Happy Book Day to YOU! You came into the world one year ago!

You were delivered in several very heavy boxes and as a PDF online.

Here you are fresh from the publisher, still in the box!

The gestation period for a book is hard to determine. It took 16 years or 15 months or some duration in between for you to arrive.  Bringing you into the world was its own birthing process.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that you were twinkle on my to-do list.  I had only the slightest idea of the kind of book you would be.  The twinkle became an outline and then a detailed outline. Eventually you had chapters, and images, and quotes.  With each section we added, you took me back in time.  Dusty memories and data began to sparkle again.  We had such fun and many late nights.  Perhaps some wine.

You’re chunky because so many people contributed to you being the comprehensive, informative, image-filled book that you are.  It took 145 pages of tiny print to list everyone that was part of the NAKFI program. I’m glad that record exists.

Your genealogy includes researchers from every corner of science, engineering, and medicine. You are from graduate students, post-docs, even Nobel Laureates.  Many of them are from the US, but some came from Canada, Italy, the UK, Israel, China, Japan, and Spain. There are artists, designers, philanthropists, business leaders, journalists, inventors, and non-profit founders there too! Your lineage is also staff and volunteer committee members who cared about ideas, ideals, innovation, improvement, and each other.

You’re a very lucky book because you include and are for everyone.

Your arrival was a week of many emotions. My heart skipped when I held your girth in my hands for the first time.  All your pages and appendices were in the right place. You had that irresistible new book smell! I was especially humbled by your cover.   I gave you your title and did the early concept art for the design.

I may have squealed when I sent the official email announcing you were ready for download. Your release was the culmination of so much.  The richness could fill another book of reflections, stories, and data.

There was sadness too.  Releasing you into the world was the last visible accomplishment I would have as Senior Program Director of NAKFI.  My work was done.  Now what would I do?

The week of your arrival I said good-bye to longtime colleagues.  That our work together would end seemed unthinkable.

We were the “dream team”.

We had a repeatable and responsive model.

We had data and results.

We had evidence of continued need.

We had a track record.

We still had new ideas.

We had community.

We literally wrote the book on how to do this!

Emptiness, change…it is the Way.

We cleaned out the office, boxed up the official files for archiving, and watched the shredding company wheel away extraneous documents.

We held our last gathering as an office, painting our own versions of a desolate seascape that matched my inner mood.

We all had such fun doing this. The painting I made is hanging in our guest bathroom.

I stayed strong and “professional” through all of it. Until I didn’t.  Leaving the building for the last time I saw someone I didn’t expect.  The happysadness caught me off-guard. It is gift to touch genuine feeling and be met by understanding and kindness.

NAKFI, the program that made you possible as a book was co-created by caring, and teamwork, and hard work, and research, and experimentation, and learning, and time, and trust.

And so much laughter. I forgot to mention that laughter held us together as much as the glue in your binding.   We had fun and we knew how lucky we were every day.

What difference are you making?

I’ve checked your publicly available stats occasionally to see how you’re doing.  I wouldn’t use this process or these metrics to conduct a professional evaluation of a book.   But I’m not doing this as a professional evaluator. I’m writing it as a proud parent letting go.  I don’t need to be entirely objective this time.

You’ve been downloaded over 1,300 times! Wow!  I think that’s pretty good considering there was no time for a concerted promotion or marketing campaign. There was no book tour.

You are a world-traveler!  People as far away as China, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, and India  download you.  I wish I could learn more about their work and offer to help them put your ideas into practice where they are.

Global reach of book downloads. Screen capture from NAP.edu taken 12/11/2019

When you were about a month old, I saved the anonymous comments from people who had downloaded you. I read every one. Here are some of the words people used to explain how you’re helping them:


They were using you for teaching, strategy, as evidence to inform others, and to do new research.  A few people are using you to build new programs or interdisciplinary centers.  More than a few mentioned inspiration and innovation.

This is what we wrote you to do. We wrote you to ensure NAKFI’s legacy. And you are.

I couldn’t be more pleased to see that people looked to you for hope and inspiration. We need that in the world.

What better legacy could there be?

So, happy BookDay. I am so proud of you!

Thank you for all you represent to me and the people who knew and loved NAKFI.

May you continue to be of benefit.

With love from one of many parents,


P.S.  There are a multitude of ways what we wrote about in the book could be combined with other approaches or modified to fit different topics, audiences, and contexts.  If anyone reading this was part of the NAKFI program or wants to talk about putting Collaborations of Consequence to use, please leave a comment here or connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.  


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