It’s become fashionable to stress Competencies in designing programs for developing leaders, growing talent and shaping culture. Increasingly, demonstrated Competencies are finding their way into the annual evaluation process where their weight can be significant. But what about Skills? Are there Skills that are so broad-based, even transformational, that they deserve the same emphasis?
In fact, writing is such a skill, and it’s importance has been lost over the last few decades with the advent of email, messaging and now texting http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/07/your_company_is_only_as_good_a.html. We now work with such speed that the quality of the written word has become much less important than it used to be. But, so what? Why should we care? What’s the business value, and aren’t important memos and public communications scrubbed to perfection by experts? Is it really worth polishing language when a quick text will do?
The response to these questions is that thoughtful writing is just that: thoughtful. It’s easy to dash off a quick text, and maybe the reader can even decipher any cryptic language. Yet, if the author were to think about how to write the message more carefully, the content might change materially for the better.
In my experience, some of my best work comes not just from my initial creative thoughts but from the exercise of putting the thoughts in clear, complete sentences. The process challenges me to consider all kinds of potential issues with my first blush reasoning, always vastly improving the end result. In response, you may argue that careful writing sacrifices speed. I say “exactly.” It’s time to slow down and do higher quality work. Great business ideas and results don’t come from impatience. They come from creativity which takes care and thought.
One further point, we talk a lot about a culture of learning, innovation and creativity. You can’t create a culture just by expressing the desire in words. It takes complete sentences!