As you’ve probably guessed, I love the written word, both as a reader and a writer. I love clear, concise presentation and have little-to-no tolerance for over-written text that needs eight paragraphs (or pages) to say what could be said in one.
I believe that
- all readers are intelligent in their own way;
- you need to write for your audience;
- readers will reread something that they don’t understand;
- convoluted, opaque, confusing, or boring writing can ruin careers and relationships; and, finally, that
- speed is not the Holy Grail of communication.
I am not alone. B-schools and corporations recognize just how much damage poor/careless writing has/is causing and are working to change it.
Here’s one of the best (worst?) examples I’ve seen lately, written by a manager in a Fortune 500 company to describe his job, “It is my job to ensure proper process deployment activities take place to support process institutionalization and sustainment. Business process management is the core deliverable of my role, which requires that I identify process competency gaps and fill those gaps.”
This from a Director of Training—can you imagine being in one of his classes?
Some marketing pros are fighting back against long, dense, boring web content. Gerry McGovern considers content a “…hugely undervalued asset” and thinks around 90% of most site content is “filler”—probably why I hate reading websites.
What does all this mean to you as a manager?
That you and your group/department/company need to objectively evaluate writing skills and then work to improve/develop them as needed. You’ll also need to find a way to convince your textaholics that speed (in writing) kills—and that’s not going to be easy.