Search This Blog

Jul 29, 2022

The pull of the rough draft

In general, executives try to walk out of any meeting with minimal to-do list in their hands. When discussing a project, we have a temptation to say “oh, I can do it so easily, and I may be the best in the room to do it.” That is almost always the wrong thing to do; if you a leader, you should find someone else to do it, whenever possible. Otherwise, your time will be completely eaten up by such tasks. More importantly, you are not letting your team learn and grow. Delegation of responsibility is essential for a learning organization.

However, there is one exception to this rule. When a meeting resolves in a need for some sort of a document, I often volunteer to do the first draft. It is because the framing of the issue and structuring of the initial document are critically important to get it right. After that, people can contribute to it in many ways, including completely overriding the initial idea. But everyone tends to stick to the original frame. A document with three sections tends to stay with three sections, no matter how many edits it goes through. If it has the Background part, and a summary part, they normally stay. If you include a section called “Limitations of the proposed approach,” people usually keep it there. I may never have any input or control over the document again, but I can influence the questions people ask themselves while writing it.

The structure of things, not just documents, is something that is obvious to the point of becoming invisible. It affects our thinking in subtle, barely perceptible ways. The most potent power is that of a blank page, where everything is still possible, and nothing is solid yet. We rarely get to deal with the blank page. None if us get to do anything really from scratch. The “scratch” is the sensation of boundless creativity. That is the reason not to miss such rare moments where nothing yet is fixed. Whatever you or others create later will increasingly limit further steps. The way you use your freedom determines the shackles that will eventually confine it. Treasure the potency of a rough draft.

No comments:

Post a Comment