The value of writing is a staple in management thinking. But the move to remote working has enhanced the value of writing beyond the corner office
The written word will flourish in the post-pandemic workplace
.A workplace dominated by time on screens may seem bound to favour newer, faster and more visual ways of transmitting information. But an old form of communication—writing—is also flourishing. And not just dashed-off emails and entries on virtual whiteboards, but slow, time-intensive writing. The strengths of the written word have not been diminished by the pandemic era. In some ways they are ideally suited to it.*
The value of writing is a staple in management thinking. “The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen,” reckoned Lee Iacocca, a quotable titan of the American car industry. Jeff Bezos banned slide decks from meetings of senior Amazon executives back in 2004, in favour of well-structured memos. “PowerPoint-style presentations somehow give permission to gloss over ideas,” he wrote.Read more: The Economist »
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Android .Peter Dinklage: ‘I would like to see some sort of gremlin get in the internet and shut the whole thing down’ Given this background, it comes as no surprise that Mercurio’s lessons feature a lot more scientific principles than soliloquies.TikTok mom slammed after making 5-year-old son run in 104 degree heat “Instead you can use a travel pillow as additional storage.Mixing It Up , and amid that show of 31 other painters, was a distinctive and quirky voice, which makes her Camden Art Centre show, her first solo exhibition in a London public space, a mouthwatering prospect.
A workplace dominated by time on screens may seem bound to favour newer, faster and more visual ways of transmitting information. But an old form of communication—writing—is also flourishing. Characters and settings, he argues, follow Einstein’s theory of space-time. And not just dashed-off emails and entries on virtual whiteboards, but slow, time-intensive writing. However, most airlines will allow a neck pillow free of charge, and do not count it as a baggage item. The strengths of the written word have not been diminished by the pandemic era. In the course notes, there’s a hand-drawn illustration of Sherlock Holmes bending space so much that all the other characters get sucked towards him. In some ways they are ideally suited to it. She’s a true original.
* The value of writing is a staple in management thinking. In Mercurio’s scripts, space-time is evidently just as bent as the coppers. Ayo then fills the emptied neck pillow with the clothes she couldn’t fit in her suitcase. “The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen,” reckoned Lee Iacocca, a quotable titan of the American car industry. Jeff Bezos banned slide decks from meetings of senior Amazon executives back in 2004, in favour of well-structured memos. There’s a lot of talk about building to a critical mass and setting off chain reactions. “PowerPoint-style presentations somehow give permission to gloss over ideas,” he wrote. “Let’s see if I make it on without paying. Some executives write for themselves. Stories, for Mercurio, are not the product of divine inspiration but machines that can be built and fine-tuned by the application of careful and diligent craft. Decriminalised Futures, ICA, Feb 15 to May 22,.
Andrew Bosworth, a bigwig at Meta (formerly Facebook), has a blog in which he muses interestingly on many topics, including on writing itself: “In my experience, discussion expands the space of possibilities while writing reduces it to its most essential components.” Others do so to reach an audience. Martin Compston and Stephen Graham in ‘Line of Duty’ (BBC/World Productions) The sequence from his own work that Mercurio refers to most often is the bravura opening scene of Bodyguard , in which Richard Madden’s Sergeant David Budd talks down a suicide bomber by offering up details of his time serving in Afghanistan and sharing his distrust of the politicians who sent him there. “Some of you were saying in the comments, you know, why don’t you just pay for a more expensive flight, this is too much work. Shareholder letters from Larry Fink and Warren Buffett are the corporate equivalent of a blockbuster book launch. But the move to remote working has enhanced the value of writing to the entire organisation, not just the corner office. We’re too busy wondering if the bomb is going to go off. When tasks are being handed off to colleagues in other locations, or people are working on a project “asynchronously”, meaning at a time of their choosing, comprehensive documentation is crucial.” “One: it took me five minutes to do.
When new employees start work on something, they want the back story. Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trial Sign up As well as showcasing Mercurio’s strengths, the lessons also illustrate the areas of screenwriting he’s less interested in. When veterans depart an organisation, they should leave knowledge behind. Writing everything down sounds like an almighty pain. Part of the reason he believes Line of Duty fans acclimatised so quickly to its acronym-laden talk of sending UCOs to investigate OCGs is that the words his characters say aren’t nearly as critical as everything else that’s going on in the story. Recommended. But so is turning up to a meeting and not having the foggiest what was decided last time out. Software developers have already worked out the value of the written word. He’s also not one to get hung up on three-act versus four-act structure.
A research programme from Google into the ingredients of successful technology projects found that teams with high-quality documentation deliver software faster and more reliably. Gitlab, a code-hosting platform whose workforce is wholly remote, frames the secret of successful asynchronous working thus: “How would I deliver this message, present this work, or move this project forward right now if no one else on my team (or in my company) were awake?” Gitlab’s answer is “textual communication”. “If in 10 minutes nothing very significant happens,” he says, “then I know I’ve got a problem. Its gospel is a handbook that is publicly available, stretches to more than 3,000 pages and lays out all of its internal processes. The deliberation and discipline required by writing is helpful in other contexts, too. Mercurio has famously gone after critics on social media who had the temerity to criticise the morse-code-based revelation that the dastardly and mysterious H was in fact four separate people, so it should come as no surprise that there are no lessons here on humility, or indeed on Twitter etiquette. “Brainwriting” is a brainstorming technique, used by Slack among others, in which participants are given time to put down their ideas before discussion begins.
Lists of corporate values can make greeting cards seem hard-hitting. But thoughtful codification of a firm’s culture makes more sense in hybrid and remote workplaces, where new joiners have less chance to meet and observe colleagues. Purists will sniff that none of this counts as writing. But good prose and useful prose share the same essential qualities: brevity, structure, a clear theme. Cormac McCarthy, a prize-winning novelist, copy-edits scientific papers for fun.
Ted Chiang says that his science-fiction short stories and his technical writing both draw on a desire to explain an idea clearly. Writing is not always the best way to communicate in the workplace. Video is more memorable; a phone call is quicker; even PowerPoint has its place. But for the structured thought it demands, and the ease with which it can be shared and edited, the written word is made for remote work. * Cynical readers may question a paean to the written word in a publication that sells a fine style guide and runs courses on business writing.
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