How writing can help you to think clearly and be more articulate (with example)
Why writing is important habit for designers and product managers
Writing helps you communicate clearly.
Try to write something you know, you’ll soon realize there are a lot of things you don’t understand yet. The sooner you realize this, the more time you have to gain the information.
A study shows that writing can help us encode information better. When you write, you have to make an intentional decision on what word to use. You probably revise it a couple of times until you feel you’re being clear. Through this process, you start to understand what you’re trying to say—your idea becomes sharp.
While talking to people can be useful to help you think through the problem, I find writing helps me to be more precise with what I’m trying to say.
In my work leading the team, I find myself spending a lot of time writing. Sometimes, I write something that I’d never share with anyone—to internalize and sharpen my thinking. Sometimes I confused myself and say, “What am I trying to say here?” Through that reflective process, I am trying to be clear with myself, so I can be articulate when I communicate with others.
Writing scale your work.
Some people might feel writing is a waste of time. But it actually saves you time. When a new member joined a team, for example, I can send them a link to the doc and they’ll be able to catch up quickly. I might spend an hour writing it initially, but it saves me hours in the future from repeating myself.
Also, when I can’t find a time to set a meeting, I can spend a few minutes writing and letting everyone read it asynchronously. To be more effective, design managers and product managers should consider building a habit of writing.
Clear writing leads to clear thinking. You don’t know what you know until you try to express it. —Michael A. Covington
Start small. Build habits.
For product practitioners who are interested to build a writing habit, you need a purpose. Since most of the readers of this newsletter are product and design practitioners, I suggest you utilize the power of writing to create a project brief. The format is simple: One-pager with bullet points.
To be clear, I don’t recommend maintaining this bullet points style in the long run, because the ability to articulate your idea in sentences is crucial. Whenever you are ready, try to convert those bullet points to sentences, while keeping them concise.
But for starters, you can start with bullet points. It’s better than nothing. The format is simple. I like to use:
Current condition: An explanation of the current condition and the complication
Challenges: The frame we use to attack the problem
Desired outcomes: The future result we seek to make
Proposal: The approach we want to take
Here’s an example of a one-pager with bullet points. I’m not endorsing you to be strict with the format, be flexible and adjust it as you need. I also found a lot of examples online: here, here, and here.
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