Communicate in One Page

One Page MemoIdea Summary

To run our businesses more effectively, most documents and reports in our businesses (including summaries, plans, reviews, and analysis) should be kept to one page.

 

Perspective

Businesses are awash in information, specifically reports, analysis, weekly updates or reviews, which are rarely read and, even more seldom, acted upon.  As an example, the one page Executive Summary is a relic of the past, now replaced by Executive Summaries of 3 – 5 pages or even longer.  Such long reports or analyses are time-consuming to write and usually too complex to translate into actionable steps to move our companies forward

 

How It Works

We need to create a firm policy at our companies to keep all written communication to one page.  This requires the writer to edit what they write, distilling their ideas, arguments, and recommendations into the most important few.  The one-page memo can and should be used by everyone in nearly every situation.

 

Key Benefits

Restricting memos and reports to one page requires work and thought which usually leads to a higher quality and more insightful product.  Moreover, one page memos will get done and done more quickly.  Our team is much less likely to procrastinate; instead, they will get the report done timely because… “it is only one page!”  Further, the report is much more likely to be read and read carefully.  Again, it is only one page as opposed to the 10 page report that causes all of our eyes to glaze over and to be put off to be read on another day.  In addition, the constraint of one page means that our analysis is short, to the point, and laser focused on the 3 – 5 key concepts.  By focusing attention on the 3 – 5 key ideas, any discussion will be concentrated on these points leading to more robust dialogue.  It will also be easier to put those 3 – 5 concepts into action and ensure that they will actually get done.  This, of course, helps improve our businesses leading to greater profit.

 

Next Steps

Each of us needs to take the plunge and insist that all reports and memos in our companies are kept to one page.  To ensure that the idea of a one-page memo is implemented, we also need to have the discipline to return (unread) any reports that are longer than one page.

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5 Key Interpersonal Skills for Leaders

“Abraham Lincoln said that people think that the real test of a person’s character is how they deal with adversity. A much better measure of a person’s character is to give them power. I’ve been more often disappointed with how people’s character is revealed when they’ve been given power.”  Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria

As leaders, we have power. We have the power to direct and lead others; we have the greater power in all of our interpersonal relations. This power requires us to be even more attentive in our interpersonal relations to ensure that we do not abuse this power, but instead that we are as effective as possible in developing open, positive, two-way communication with our teams.

So, what can we do to develop strong interpersonal relations with the people who work for us?

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Don’t Believe the Hype

Hype“The world is changing faster than ever before.”

“We need to adapt to the change or we will get run over by it.”

“The paradigm has shifted and the world will never be the same.”

“Robotics and AI (Artificial Intelligence) will disrupt every industry and company on the planet.”

The hype from the media about the change happening in the world is nearly overwhelming.  As such, many of us live in fear that we and our businesses are not changing fast enough.

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Experiment… A Little

Leadership ExperimentTo move our companies forward, we need to experiment.  We need to try out new products, new sales/ marketing strategies, new processes, and new leadership styles.  We cannot be certain if all of these will work.  But, to not experiment means that our companies stagnate.

 It is common sense to take a method and try it: if it fails, admit it frankly and try another.  But, above all, try something.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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Decisiveness

decisiveness“In a minute, there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.”

This line from the 1915 T.S. Elliot poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, is a lovely bit of poetry.  It is also a prescription for how not to run a business.

To be successful leaders running successful businesses, we need to be decisive.  We need to make a decision, decide on a course of action, and then work relentlessly to execute on the decision.

“The one word that makes a good manager — decisiveness.”  Lee Iacocca

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Avoiding Micromanagement

micromanagement cartoonGuilty as charged!!  I confess that I do, at times, micromanage.

However, soon after slipping into micromanagement, I become aware (yet again) that micromanagement is truly just mis-management.  It would have been far better for me to avoid the trap of micromanagement and to focus instead on coaching and empowering my team to achieve great results.

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Checklists

checklistSeveral years ago, a medical surgeon, Atul Gawande, wrote a best-selling book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, that discusses the advantages of using checklists in all types of activities from surgery to disaster recovery to business.

As leaders, we need to follow his advice and use checklists regularly to help improve our companies.

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