There is an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review this month by Josh Bernoff: "Bad Writing Is Destroying Your Company’s Productivity". The article starts with:
A hidden source of friction is slowing your company down. Your workers are complicit in it. So is your management. And it’s driving everybody nuts.
It’s bad business writing.
|Car park sign at Cambridge University.|
Image source: The Telegraph.
I couldn't agree more. I work in an academic institution so thankfully "bad business writing" is rare, but none of us is perfect (or is it "are perfect"?). Recently at a meeting, I got up on my high horse and moaned about the misspelling of names on a list of names. I hate it when someone spells my name wrong - often the apostrophe is left out. I have taken in the recent past to add fadas to Irish names such as Seán, Oisín, and Sinéad - it's only one extra keypress on the keyboard and the effort involved is minuscule. To me if you take your business seriously, it is not a tough ask to get a person's name right, and by extension other words too.
Josh Bernoff gives us the following points to consider...
- Vague writing dilutes leadership
- Clarity in marketing tells customers — and workers — that they can trust you
- Fuzzy writing allows fuzzy thinking
- A culture of clear writing makes managers more productive
...and he gives excellent examples from Yahoo, Apple, and Google to prove his points. He begs us to "clear all the crap out of your inboxes", and to commit to a "culture of clarity". Apart from improving productivity in a business, it makes life a lot less annoying.