Dymaxicon Leaves the Nest

A couple of years ago, Hillary Louise Johnson and I had nearly finished writing The Elements of Scrum and we were discovering that the options for publishing it through traditional means didn’t satisfy us. A traditional publishing deal wouldn’t give us the creative control we wanted, and the royalty terms offered by traditional publishers weren’t to our liking. The answer, Hillary saw, was to start a publishing company; Dymaxicon was born.

Hillary had big plans right from the start. “Because of my years spent as a journalist and author, I had a huge backlog of books I knew of that had never found a home with traditional publishers,” she says. “So I started making calls.”

The first book Dymaxicon published was a literary novel, The Bad Mother, by Hillary’s longtime colleague, Nancy Rommelmann. It garnered attention in the Huffington Post, The Oregonian, and the LA Weekly. By the time The Elements of Scrum came out, Hillary already had several other literary titles in the works, which have since been reviewed in major newspapers across the country. One was even excerpted in the New York Times.

In mid-2012, Hillary and I published Scrum: A Breathtakingly Brief and Agile Introduction, a kind of Cliff-Notes version of The Elements of Scrum, designed to meet the needs of executives and others who wanted or needed a quick-start guide. Within months, both books had come to consistently rank #1 and #2 on Amazon’s bestseller lists for software project management.

In 2012, Hillary also collaborated with our fellow agilist Tobias Mayer to bring out a new kind of literary journal, 113 Crickets, which mixed writing from technology mavens and literary figures, some known, like the Stanford poet Kenneth Fields and the actor James Franco, and others who were seeing their work in print for the first time. Meanwhile, the agile community turned out to support the fledgling literary magazine through advertising.

By using a lean business model and developing projects iteratively, Dymaxicon was able to bootstrap its way to profitability. And today, Agile Learning Labs’ child Dymaxicon is striking out on its own. What started as a better way to publish The Elements of Scrum has become Hillary’s full-time passion, and so she is leaving Agile Learning Labs to focus on her role as CEO of the newly independent Dymaxicon LLC. All of us at Agile Learning Labs wish Hillary well and look forward to cheering Dymaxicon on to even greater successes in the future.

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1 thought on “Dymaxicon Leaves the Nest

  1. Hillary

    Chris, as usual you aren’t giving yourself nearly enough credit! I distinctly remember one long walk we took along the canals of Foster City, in 2007 or so, when you spun out your vision for the company you wanted to create: a place where employees were entrepreneurs, able to take initiative and create value and realize their deeply-held visions for the future of work within the framework of a company unafraid of exploring entirely unexpected avenues for growth. Thanks for the opportunity, and I hope I am but the first of a new tradition of Agile Learning Labs alumni who go on to do great things. It’s an honor to be your publisher!


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