What is a Book Sprint?

A Book Sprint brings together a group of experts to produce a finished book in 3-5 days. No advance preparation by participants is required – the group is guided by a skilled facilitator, from zero to published book. The content of the finished book is high quality and is often made available immediately at the end of the sprint in all major digital formats and print-on-demand.

Mata Pequena, Portugal

Straford-upon-Avon, UK

New York, USA

Kayanza, Burundi

Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Bogota, Columbia

Debre Zeit, Ethiopia

Berlin, Germany

Silicon Valley, USA

Linz, Austria

Edinburgh, Scotland

Austin, USA.

Vancouver, Canada

Cairo, Egypt

Harehare, Zimbabwe

Washington, USA

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Google, USA

Groups typically have 6 to 16 participants, chosen by the hosting organization. Once the topic has been defined, the hosting organization discusses strategies with the Book Sprints team for selecting participants, as well as other logistics, such as the duration of the event, additional support needs, and how to set group expectations. Preparations are then made forĀ confirming a venue, setting dates, arrangingĀ travel and accommodations, etc.

Once everyone is gathered at the Book Sprint venue, the facilitator governs the process, manages the group dynamics, mediates disagreement, and imposes the unalterable deadline for the finished book. Although the facilitator is a member of the group, the facilitator never takes part in actual writing, nor does he or she weigh in with opinions about the content. Instead, the facilitator enables an environment in which the group can collaborate creatively and purposefully. The aim is to make sure that all participants collaborate in sharing their ideas and shaping the development of the book. Using a light-touch approach and taking care to accommodate different personalities and styles, the facilitator may also have to carefully manage potential and real conflict.

A useful way of thinking about what kind of material can be best addressed by a Book Sprint is to consider two modes of knowledge production that the Book Sprint operates in. The first, the extractive Book Sprint, is generally employed to document and describe known objects, processes, or work practices. Technical manuals exemplify the descriptive process that takes place in this mode. The second is the generative Book Sprint, which is used to create new concepts, enable critical reflection on practice, produce new ideas, practices, and meanings. In reality both of these modes may be woven together, as they operate on a continuum. But it is generally useful to have in mind the kind of activity that a particular Book Sprint will be geared toward

Some of the things Book Sprints do well include:

  • Opening a space for critical reflection on practice.
  • Strategic planning.
  • Eliciting knowledge from subject-matter experts, e.g., legacy or new technologies, textbooks, NGO reports, etc.
  • Creating responses to fast-moving topics.
  • Facilitating new networks and vocabularies between individuals and organizations.

For more information email Mark Brokering at markbrokering@booksprints.net