Less chat more writing
Chat is great for ephemeral topics but fail at building institutional knowledge. Meetings share the same problem.
More and more important discussions are happening via chat. I've noticed this trend over the last few years, likely coinciding with companies adopting Slack.
Chat is great for quick and timely resolutions but terrible for...
- Any information that someone might need in the future.
- Discovery by people who aren't in the thread at the time.
- Having a threaded conversation on a topic
- Sharing to other interested parties
These are real examples from friends:
- You join a new team, you want to ramp up and get context on the past two years. You are told: "Welome, scroll up and read chat history until 2018." 😩
- You're trying to understand why an important decision was made. You are told: "I think we talked about that around the first week of January." 🧐
- You find out about an important discussion from a coworker. "Oh that happened in this meeting but we forgot to add you. Sorry!" 😤
You can solve these shortcomings by writing things down and generating an artifact that outlives your chat conversations or meetings.
Benefits of writing things down
- Can be consumed asynchronously at any time.
- Can be edited or updated at any time.
- Forces you to think through the topic and be explicit and clear.
- Can be written collaboratively.
Downsides of writing things down
- It takes time to write.
- If not maintained, documents can grow stale.
There is a cost to writing, but the benefits to your team are huge. You'll see better collaboration, fewer re-opened decisions, and an overall decrease in meetings/chat volume. This is especially true when working remote.
There's a reason that people such as Paul Graham or Andrew Chen have been able to grow large audiences with their writing. It lives on beyond any conversation, e-mail thread, or presentation/pitch.
You can have the same effect on your team/company.
The steps to implement this are simple quite simple. The challenge is building a habit.
- Start writing (Now!)
- Organize your notes (e.g. Google Drive or something similar)
- Start linking to your notes/folders
- As others start to see value in your writing, they'll start to do the same.
Note: I'm following this same process for this post :) My first step was to start writing my thoughts down.
Have you been successful in getting your team to write more? Do you have tips for what worked? I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts via twitter: @bdickason
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Post last updated: Dec 2, 2020
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