I had occasion recently to run into Roger Berkowitz, the CEO of Legal Seafoods. I made a point to compliment him on the uniformly high quality of his many restaurants, both the food and the staff. His reply was, "It's always a work in progress." In so saying, he acknowledged the nature of organizations. Even those institutions and firms with a progressive management philosophy and a long history of excellence know that continuous improvement is, as the name suggests, a work in progress.
Then, coincidentally, I was talking with Mark Graban, who is co-authoring his second book, with Joe Swartz. It's working title is Kaizen for Healthcare: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Improvements.
As we discussed his writing and revising, I said something about it being a "work in progress," and he correctly noted, "There is no continuous improvement with books." By which he meant, of course, that once a book is published, it is a snapshot in time of the author's skill and ability in presenting a message. While you may be able to put out a second edition at some time in the future, that pesky first edition -- with all its flaws -- is still out there on people's bookshelves and in libraries.
But I wonder whether, with the advent of electronic books, that will change. Certainly, it is much easier with ebooks than paper books to put out a second and subsequent editions, so that later purchasers get a different version from the earlier buyers. But will it go further than that?
Right now, when you purchase an ebook, the version you download stays the same for all time. Can we envision a time in which the version you downloaded gets updated whenever the author chooses to make a change? Think of it as an Adobe software update!
What do you think? Are we headed that way?