Chapter 77. Scale Communication Through Writing

Saul Diez-Guerra

One of the most difficult challenges in scaling any sort of large human endeavor is effective written communication; other than pushing the limits of technology, there isn’t any challenge more troublesome and pricklier.

The complexity of our team’s interactions grows exponentially with the number of teammates, in a perverse application of the network effect. As soon as we are lucky enough to hire and grow our team beyond a handful of people, misunderstandings and conflict invariably appear. Most problems in the workplace can be boiled down to interpersonal problems, and the only way out of them, or at least around them, is effective communication.

To make matters worse, the modern team demands that people work together with colleagues on different schedules, in different buildings, time zones, and even cultures and countries. As your organization grows, it silently drifts into meeting madness and—if you are lucky—its communication patterns turn asynchronous. Left unchecked, these patterns end up taking all sorts of shapes and forms: from the management consulting habit of turning everything into an informational slide deck, to protracted email chains sent to questionable listservs, or laissez-faire internal wikis that become the Wild Wild West.

After you declare meeting bankruptcy and decide that you don’t want ...

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