Write Your Way to Clearer Business Decisions

Software enables companies to move faster than ever. And that’s great. But now companies can make mistakes faster than ever, and they can do it at scale. Disciplined, thorough thinking has never been so important (or in such short supply).

On net, you’re going to have a much easier time of things if you can back up your decisions with 1) clear, personal conviction and 2) clear, compelling reasons others should believe in your vision. Good, logical writing is one of the best ways to get both. And for this reason, it may be just as important for a modern business as programming in Javascript or C-Sharp.

When you have to sit down with a product decision and a blank page, you face a real trial. Whether you’re writing about a decision to your employees, shareholders, customers, the public, or even just yourself, if you’re going at it in good faith you will emerge on the other side of the writing process with a stronger case or a decision that needs to change somehow.

You’re going to have to consider logical structure. You’re going to have to consider how your decisions and even your phrasing will look to others. You’re have to anticipate and answer objections. You have to have and communicate a vision and clear reasons for your decisions.

Things move fast in the software world. Debate creates ideas, but it does not often organize them. And our minds can only keep up with so much at a time. Writing is deliberate, logical, and slow (painfully so). The pain is good. Frequently you can discover things about your own thoughts and decisions through writing which you wouldn’t gather through conversation or only mental deliberation.

Now, I know some of this first-hand through writing down my own decisions. As a marketer, I also know it through writing extensively about decisions my company has made and is about to make. But I’m not just standing on my own two feet here. Amazon also realizes the value of writing – it’s known for its practice of writing a press release for a new product launch well before a new product is finished. From Business Insider:

“Before Amazon developers write a single line of code, they have to write the hypothetical product’s press release and FAQ announcement.

Amazon uses this ‘working backwards’ approach because it forces the team to get the most difficult discussions out of the way early, Jassy says. They need to fully understand what the product’s value proposition will be and how it will be pitched to customers. If the team can’t come up with a compelling press release, the product probably isn’t worth making.” 

Try it sometime. Or find someone who can do it for you. It will make you and your business stronger. But be patient – writing through these decisions is about process as much as product.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Intellectual Credit: Jordan Peterson (and many others, to be sure) has spoken before on the value of writing as thinking


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James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

Comments 1

  1. Lately I’ve been thinking about writing as analogous to programming. Disclaimer: I’m no programmer.

    If you buy that our brains are something like massively complicated organic computers, the stories we hear and the stories we tell ourselves are programs that are always running. Accordingly, good stories help us process the world, make accurate predictions, help us interpret the past so it makes more sense. And they do this with few errors. Bad stories are buggy, cause the system to get hung up (BSOD like massive cognitive dissonance), and make inaccurate predictions.

    When it comes to persuading organizations or people to change, as writers we’re offering new stories—code patches—that can be inserted into existing narratives. Or in some cases, to replace the prevailing story entirely. It’s not easily done, but good writers:

    * Write clean code—craft stories that make sense
    * Are able to breakdown, erase, or overwrite existing code
    * Know how to get to the “root” of the system. That is, break through any dissonance or deprecate bad arguments/code

    I’m sure the writing=coding analogy isn’t perfect, but it seems on point.

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