As business writing consultants, one of our greatest challenges is dispelling a common myth that there’s nothing a company can do to improve writing. In a Boston focus group, one financial executive confessed that he was embarrassed by his team’s documents compared to those prepared by the London office. Yet he did nothing—he believed that there was no remedy short of sending his team back to school.
How can you shift your organization to reader-centered writing? Start at the top
A successful writing culture shift begins with leadership. When inside influencers set a new standard for clear writing, it becomes a trend.
Five ideas for achieving writing culture change at your organization
1. Identify your champions on the management team. Find leaders who
- are actively involved in identifying needs and approving learning paths
- attend kickoff events
- stress benefits of training to people’s careers and the company.
2. Train people in a common process
- Apply a consistent process—get a consistent result.
- Create brand uniformity throughout your company.
3. Manage and measure
- Include writing in performance management.
- Use a writing measurement tool to compare document quality.
4. Evaluate what works and what needs to go
- Do an overhaul of boilerplate documents that are outdated.
- Interview customers to see how documents could better meet their needs.
5. Recognize and reward
- Create awards for great documents at high-visibility events.
- Communicate wins and successes.
Make clear writing a brand statement
There’s a venture capital firm where everyone wears Converse sneakers, jeans, and t-shirts. Entrepreneurs pitching their ideas arrive wearing that same uniform—an attempt to mirror the style and culture of the firm. Reader-centered writing can make a similar statement: it ties together your company’s communication style and reinforces your brand.