The Thomas Nelson Way

For some time, the Executive Leadership Team of Thomas Nelson has wanted to compile our corporate philosophy into a small book. This post marks the beginning of that process.A Stack of The Thomas Nelson Way Books

As a working title for this project, we have chosen The Thomas Nelson Way. The book will attempt to capture the unique way we do business at Thomas Nelson. Because blue is our corporate color, I have envisioned it as a small blue book. As a result, we are also referring to it as The Little Blue Book. I will refer to this series of posts as The Little Blue Book Series.

This book is intended for all Thomas Nelson employees, of course, but I think it will be especially helpful to new employees. We want a way to get them up-to-speed quickly as it relates to our corporate philosophy and culture. We plan to build a curriculum around this content, so that all new employees go through it in their first month of employment. I plan to teach some of these sessions myself. I believe the content is that important.

I thought it might be a good idea to write the book on my blog and post one chapter at a time. This way, readers—even non-Nelson employees—can comment on it, so we can make revisions before going to press. We can think of this as a kind of “community project.” (Thanks to Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, who inspired me to do this in their excellent book, Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk to Customers.)

For years, I have encouraged new writers to write their book out of sequence. “Don’t start with the first chapter,” I’ve admonished. “Start with the easiest chapter. Then write the next easiest and so on until you’re done.” The most important thing you can do on any project is build momentum. By writing the easiest chapters first, you build the momentum necessary to write the more difficult chapters.

I plan to follow my own advice here. I’m going to write out of sequence, starting with the chapters where I have already done the most research and work. (I have also spoken on a number of these topics at our quarterly “All Employee Meetings.”) As I finish, each chapter, I will post it here.

So here’s the table of contents as it stands now. This will also serve as a sort of index to the whole book. As I complete each chapter, the chapter title will turn into a link that points to the post on that topic.

As you read this list, ask what is missing? I’d love to get your comments.

Table of Contents Updated
1. Our History NA
  This chapter will give an overview of the Company’s history, beginning in 1798 when Thomas Nelson, an eighteen-year-old entrepreneur, opened a used bookstore in Edinburgh, Scotland.  
2. Our Business NA
  This chapter will provide an overview of our current business, including our basic business model.  
3. Our Values 01/27/07
  This chapter outlines our five core values, with particular emphasis on the behaviors they are designed to encourage.  
4. Our Purpose 01/08/07
  This chapter answers the basic question, “Why do we exist?” and outline the three aspects of our core purpose.  
5. Our Vision 03/06/07
  This chapter attempts to peer into the future and describe what the Company looks like five years or so from now.  
6. Our Strategy NA
  This chapter will focus on our overall business strategy. If vision is the “what,” strategy is the “how.”  
7. Our Standards 03/06/07
  This chapter outlines our content standards—why we have them and what they are.  
8. Our Culture 01/26/07
  This chapter describes the ten attributes of a healthy corporate culture, so we all know what it is that we are building toward.  
Personal Challenge NA
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  • Lucas Murtinho

    Amazing initiative, congratulations. I don’t know if you would address this on the “business” chapter, but I think it would be interesting to write about the religious book market, both its current characteristics and your ideas about the future.

  • Connie

    Michael, I look forward to reading the blue book as it develops and will endeavor to provide some constructive comments. I freelanced for Thomas Nelson for about 10 years as a ghostwriter, coauthor and copy editor – in fact, one of my last assignments was reviewing the Nelson house style guide.

    I appreciate my long association with Thomas Nelson – my best to all the fine folks there.

  • Naked Conversations

    Michael Hyatt to post his publishing book in a blog

  • Heather Adams

    This is an exceptional idea and I look forward to reviewing each portion of The Little Blue Book. One recommendation: since you and the Executive Leadership Team have recently put so much time, effort and research into the One Company Initiative, I believe that a chapter on Our Structure would be instrumental in a new employee’s understanding of our corporate organization, as well as providing an opportunity for them to see how each department interacts with one another.

  • Philip Rothschild

    Jennifer and I have enormous respect for your leadership Mike.

    I look forward to using your Blue Book as a resource for my own professional development. However, I will also have my Entertainment Management students at Missouri State read it to give them a behind the scenes look into the publishing industry.

    When possible, I would like to see you include “examples” that illustrate some of your strategies (both successful strategies and otherwise) and perhaps the “why” behind your strategy – not the “why do we exist”, but “why we chose this strategy among other strategies.”

    Finally, I would echo the sentiment of another who asked for content related to your predictions about the future – electronic books, consolidation, etc.

    All our best,
    Philip and Jennifer Rothschild

  • Michael Hyatt

    Heather, I’m not sure that the book is the best venue for delivering the organizational structure. This will eventually be a full-blown, bound book. I don’t want it to get out of date quickly. However, I do think I can talk about some of the organization in the “Our Business” section.

    Of course, another option would be to maintain an online version of the book, so that information could be updated as it changes. I’ll have to think about that.

    Thanks for your feedback and encouragement!


  • Michael Hyatt


    Thanks for your input. Excellent! Yes, I will try to include illustrations to make things more concrete.

    Blessings to you and Jennifer!


  • Brij

    Mr. Hyatt,
    I work in Nashville since about 18 months. I knew about your organization, but I did not know that you are in Nashville, TN.
    I loved the contents.
    It is hard to comment on your content. I have read so many books- The HP Way, The Toyota Way, Johnson and Johnson company;s Vision, etc.
    Each author writes from his or her own heart.
    Congratulations on writing in this format. I got opportunity to read.

  • Pat A


    I work with insurance organizations in defining their standards and procedures for their daily work. However, before we can start this process we must sometimes do team building and work on value, vision and mission statements. Sometimes they have a mission statement but it usually does not reflect their true mission.

    These clients are usually challenged to find an effective way to share this type of information with their staff. Many of these firms have grown from their entrepreneural beginnings to a larger organization. When someone new joins their firm usually that individual learns what I call “The Folklore of the Firm” from various individuals. Often this information comes from the least effective, most negative staff members.

    I have not yet had a chance to read the 1st chapter but the chapters and their descriptions tell me most of my clients need to be reading this blog. I will be directing them in this direction.

    Thanks for sharing with those of us outside your organization.

    Pat A

  • Laura Budke

    Hello Michael, thanks for sharing such important information with the general public. If you are interested in some support from an external training vendor to help design/implement your online course content, feel free to contact us, Accelerated Business Results! We have experience designing award winning training courses, strategic consulting, etc.
    Laura Budke

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