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Steven Sinofsky
1/ “Writing is thinking” is my favorite saying in “how to work” in a company. It is very interesting to dive into this a bit because I often get so much pushback, especially from startups and/or those focused on agility.
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Steven Sinofsky Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
Writing is super hard. It takes more time to write than it does to talk. It also takes more time to write a page of text than a single slide. Let’s look at one example, the paragraph on handstands from Jeff Bezos’ annual letter.
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Steven Sinofsky Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
I made a slide in about 5 minutes that simulates what it would be like if I had this story in my head before a meeting (Note: I continue to live developing a perfect handstand). This is typically what you’d see in a team meeting on this topic.
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Steven Sinofsky Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
We can see how much is lost. Think of this as a team trying to join in this lesson. Think about trying to share this lesson multiple times (management is repetition). Think about a new team member or partner who only has this slide. (Internet please do not fix my slide!)
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Steven Sinofsky Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
Two real challenges in not writing this down. First, all the details are lost…forever. There’s no shared corporate history of why/how. Second, people can make up details to fill in bullet points. What came before (high standards)? How did that conclusion get reached?
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Steven Sinofsky Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
The act of writing, forces the author to think through all the details and steps required to share the lesson. It avoids what happens in business all the time which is “I just know” or “experience” and brings along the team and other job functions on thinking.
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Steven Sinofsky Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
Execution is in a constant state of “diverging” as more expertise deals with more details that fewer people understand. The act of writing forces a team of experts to share the details of goals—not just the what, but the why, what else was considered, the history, context.
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Steven Sinofsky Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
Agility does not prevent or discourage writing. It is just that agility drives a view that “now is always better” and if that’s the high order bit, the time-consuming act of writing 500-5000 words feels “slow”. Writing is in fact a waterfall approach (write, share, edit, write…)
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Steven Sinofsky Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
But what is missing from that logic is that the process of writing and sharing thoughts is clarifying AND collaborating itself. Execution actually speeds up when you spend the up front time to write.
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Steven Sinofsky Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
Writing is more inclusive. It is easier to contribute, doesn’t reward bullies and bullshitters, and allows for contemplation. One note: for ESL, writing can be easier than speaking for many, but also sometimes difficult. Provide background assistance, avoid criticizing form.
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Steven Sinofsky Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
So please, write. Writing is thinking. PS: As Jeff mentioned, yes you can write less than great. PPS: Yes, just because you write doesn’t mean it will work. And yes, not writing doesn’t mean it will fail. Business is a social science. Anything can happen.
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Ranee Soundara Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
What’s lost is a lot of context... this is OK for a speaker, but for reading/absorption of information through reading, the audience doesn’t absorb the context of the writer
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Geoffrey Weg Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
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Steven Sinofsky Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
PS/ No surprise, I know all the PowerPoint jokes (also real studies). Not against the format *at all*. Here’s the Gettysburg address in PowerPoint. (feel free to add the marriage proposal, the breakup, the Space Shuttle story, or anything from Tufte).
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Angus Norton Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
One of the many thing I love about working at Amazon is the culture of writing. Its really hard, but force you to think about the details in a way the the theatrics of .ppt never do. Its about the content, not the "show"
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Steven Sinofsky Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
PPS/ Why don’t people write? Turns out writing is really sticking your neck out. Those details, facts, assumptions may be “rope” to hang you. So writing is culture. Everyone takes risks in writing. So don’t weaponize writing as a team by using it against ideas that didn’t work.
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Tim Morgan Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
Bang on here Steven. If you can’t write it down, you haven’t thought about it enough.
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Dan_Rowinski Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
As a professional writer of different kinds, yes, I writing is sticking your neck out. It can take some gumption. As Tarantino said in the fourth of Four Rooms: “those who make declarative statements are more likely to look foolish in retrospect.”
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Ranee Soundara Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
This thread is dope 🔥🔥🔥🔥
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Dan_Rowinski Apr 19
Replying to @stevesi
Some people don’t want to take that chance. I’ve messed up little bits of writing and had literally thousands of angry readers. I apologize, exercise transparency and promise to be better.
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