The ROI of Good Business Writing
Good business writing is a key corporate efficiency.
In his novel Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac says this: “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
Good writing is a basic corporate efficiency. There is an art to business writing and the key to this good writing is simplicity.
Josh Bernoff brought out a book last year titled Writing Without Bullshit: Boost Your Career By Saying What You Mean. For the book he surveyed 547 business persons over three months. He looked at people who read about 25 hours per week, of which about a third was email. 81% agreed that poorly written communication wasted huge amounts of time. This poor writing was “too long, poorly organized, unclear, filled with jargon, and imprecise.”
While non-executive employees may get little training in clear, incisive writing, it is more concerning that top executives increasingly reveal little skill in expressing themselves with nuance and accuracy . For example, Bernoff cites this passage from an email by former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer in 2016, when Yahoo was sold to Verizon: “…Our incredibly loyal and dedicated employee base has stepped up to every challenge along the way….The teams here have not only built incredible products and technologies, but have built Yahoo into one of the most iconic, and universally well-liked companies in the world….I’m incredibly proud of everything that we’ve achieved, and I’m incredibly proud of our team. I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you.” Note the repeated use of the word “incredible” which amounts to meaningless cheerleading–flabby, vacuous and excessive.