Drive clarity and impact, eliminate frustration.
4 min read time
A few days ago Agile Reloaded had the pleasure to have Srikanth Sridhar as a speaker at our event on business writing. Srikanth is Principal Product Manager at Microsoft London, dealing with Artificial Intelligence and search, and he has spent 6 years at Amazon, working with the Alexa, Prime Video and Kindle teams.
If you’ve missed the event, don’t worry: in this article, we are summarising the key takeaways.
What is business writing
Let’s first clarify what we mean by business writing. The following list comes in handy:
What it's not
What it is
Why is business writing important?
We might argue that, given the ever increasing list of different ways to convey information (think of videos and audio, becoming even more predominant with the explosion of TikTok and Clubhouse), writing is not that important anymore. In reality, good writing in a business context can generate clarity in a very quick way:
How effective is it?
A research conducted in 2016 shows that:
- 81% of people who write for work agree with the statement “Poorly written material wastes my time”
- Writers complain their training and editing processes are messed up
The five pillars
They say that one of the main responsibilities of a Product Manager is to generate clarity. Srikant Sridhar has introduced us to the framework that he has created and uses daily at work to write effectively: The five pillars of business writing.
Let’s go through each one of them.
1 - Specific scope
2 - Actionable content
3 - Coherent structure
4 - Simplified style
5 - Professional tone
The five pillars are all important, but the fifth is a “supporting column”: if you don’t get that one right, no matter how good the other pillars are, the building will collapse.
In the Meetup event, Srikanth talked us thorugh many great examples and exercises: we encourage you to take a look at the slides and the recording as well. We will just share one example that applies to the fifth pillar (professional tone); we start with a bad example of communication and then we show two rounds of improvement, using the principles described above:
Scenario: Product Director to Data Science Contractor
We now leave you with an “exercise”. Looking at the example above, can you think of:
- What are the mistakes made in the “Example of bad communication”?
- What are the principles applied to the “First improvement”, how did it get better and what still needs improving?
- How does the “Second improvement” looks like? Can it be further improved?
Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.