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Write It Down! – Multiply the Value

The planning session was a success – plenty of energy, ideas flowed freely, all captured on the flip chart, everyone added to the conversation. At the end, the notes were reviewed, consolidated, prioritized, summarized as bullets on a new flip chart – which were typed up and distributed – a record of the session.

During implementation, the bullets are interpreted differently among the doers – people not at the planning session don’t know the context and the session participants have different views of what the distilled items mean.

Like reading an email quickly written and sent – gremlins must have changed it – this isn’t what I thought I said.

Business leaders need to get it out of their head and on to paper – was a point Randy Taussig, Core Leadership, made during his presentation of “Leadership Lessons from the Cockpit” at the July meeting of the YPLG. Writing it down is a beginning.

I carry a notebook (paper, not computer) and usually write extensive notes during a meeting or event – things of interest and significance at the moment. My notes serve to remind me of the discussion and aid recall of relevant information.

Often I’ll write up my notes as a ‘one-pager’ to share with Dick and others, or to document a new concept or technology application. Writing up the notes is a learning experience in itself.

Reading and distilling the notes, I recall more detail about what was said and have a chance to think more deeply about it.

Focusing on content, instead of capturing what’s said, offers an opportunity to validate and assess the information. – does it fit with current knowledge, does further research reflect, contradict, or not address the new information.

Distilling the notes eliminates distractions and improves clarity and depth by concentrating on significant elements of the presentation or event. I also find this ‘head work’ leads to greater scrutiny of the critical thinking behind these elements – often leading to an additional level of understanding.

My notes are not unlike the typed bullets from the meeting or the unfocused email – perhaps adequate but not illuminating. However, the process of writing up the notes helps to dig deeper and know the topic better, as well as creating a useful document to share with others. The writer learns more and a good document helps others to understand the significant elements from the meeting or event – well worth the effort.

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