Creating Clarity Through Writing

Seth Godin provides some fantastic tips on the writing process that are very applicable for anyone building a project team or business. Tip #4 describes the purpose of writing as a "vessel to contain an idea" which is a wonderful way to put it. The idea only has value if it spreads - the book, paper, website, etc. only helps with that process. The last thought he leaves us with is #19 which is that writing clarifies thinking.

In construction many company owners and project managers get frustrated with people not being able to do things "the way I do it!" which is a thought I've struggled with quite often. One of the best ways to get past this point is to truly commit your "brain" to writing. The process of going through and trying to write down a detailed description of say a change order or submittal is very challenging. It forces you to clarify your thoughts. It forces you to continually draw diagrams trying to describe the flow of things. If you go through the process of editing it and having it reviewed by everyone on the team you will find the clarity you are looking for.

There is no doubt that this is a time consuming process but it is well worth it and will often make you think deeply about what and how much information you are trying to convey. You will clearly see streamlining opportunities as you go through the documentation process. Don't worry about being "good" at writing - the important part isn't grammatical (or political) correctness - the important part is clarifying your thoughts and committing them to paper which will help others understand your "brain."

How many critical processes are there really in your company - you know - the processes that really create profit: Get work, do work, keep score. I bet there are 10-15 key processes that really make profit happen. If you just picked off one of those every month or two you would have your thoughts completely clarified and documented over the course of a couple years.

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