The Power of Writing It Down

By Jamie Rodriguez on Nov. 14, 2016

business

We on-boarded a new art direction intern not long ago.

Her first day represented a proverbial checklist of the usual orientation steps: find a desk, set up Dropbox and email, and of course a welcome lunch. Aaah yes, the welcome lunch. 11:30 hit, and we set out for our favorite neighborhood everything-spot, Cenote. Over kale and scrambled eggs, we walked her through our slick culture keynote presentation. She seemed to like it. She seemed to get it.

It wasn’t always like this, you know. It wasn’t too long ago that these kinds of documents were confined to the fickle dwellings of our brains. An unreliable data storage approach, to say the least. No back ups, just good ol’ fashioned neuro-servers. New intern starting? Tell them about our culture. New client presentation? Tell them about our process. New company policy? Tell our employees about it.

We’ve done a lot of growing up in six and a half years of running an Austin creative agency, but perhaps no innovation has been more meaningful than that which required of us the formal inscription of company processes, ideas, and policies. It took an embarrassingly long time to fully grasp the corrosive impact of our omission, but once we did, there was no turning back. We’re believers, and we’re here to spread the good word.

Without further ado, here are six ways writing it down beats the crap out of not.

1. Written Ideas Inspire Collaboration
And it’s for the dumbest reason possible: everyone can see it. And when everyone can see an idea, then everyone is invited to improve upon it, together.

2. Written Ideas are Iterative
Thoughts evolve, and it’s hard to see where improvements can be made until you can see where they’re needed. Writing ideas down relieves you of the burden of holding the idea in your head AND working on improving it at the same time.

3. Written Ideas Demand Accountability
There’s an officialness to something that’s written down. If it’s written down, then it has to be done. There’s less room for miscommunication or ambiguity.

4. Written Ideas are Presentable
Clients and employees love to see your thinking. Literally, see it. So show it to them. Write it down while you’re working on it, write while you iterate, and write the final version. You’ll be able to present it to anyone who asks.

5. Written Ideas Inspire Confidence
If you apply this much time, care, and thought to the presentation of your ideas, it can be assumed that you’ll do the same with a potential client’s brand, or with a potential employee’s future.

6. Written Ideas are Scalable
When an idea is ready, if it’s written, it can be duplicated. There’s only one you, but a written idea can be duplicated, printed, and disseminated as widely as one can imagine. Your ideas—on how to run a business, on how to manage a brand, on how to solve a problem—can spread far and wide.

So there you have it. What seems obvious to some actually isn’t. For those of us who skipped the “Write it Down” class in business school, this revelation was eye-opening. Moreover, the implementation of this philosophy in our business has been nothing short of staggering.

Come to think of it, there were 7 reasons. Now where did I write that last one down…