Saturday, June 09, 2012

Be Brief, Simple, and Clear: Is It So Hard?

Why is business writing so awful?

Original corporate memo:

We would like to personally thank all who took the time and effort to participate in the Regional Engagement Survey conducted in April. We are very appreciative of your level of participation (64% of you responded) and we are pleased with the feedback we received.

As a company, our level of engagement was rated very near the top quartile when compared to other companies within the survey database. As is always the case, we need to strive for continuous improvement and learn from the areas of opportunity that were identified.

The feedback provided by you has given us some great insights into what is important to you and how we as a leadership team are doing.

We did extremely well in the areas of client focus, safety and sharing our knowledge with one another. This does not mean that we can let up in these areas as these items continue to be important and valued.

Based upon the survey results, we need to improve in the areas of cross-business cooperation, retention of talent and communicating the actions that we take as a result of the survey.

Each of our operations will be conducting debrief sessions where specific survey results relevant to your area will be communicated.  As the survey results vary from operation to operation, specific action plans will be developed and implemented by each operation in conjunction with staff.

Thanks again for your support and feedback.

What it meant to say:

Thank you for completing the April Engagement Survey—64% of you responded, a level near the top quartile compared to other firms in the survey database. 
You gave us insight into what you value and how we’re doing as a leadership team. We did well in client focus, safety, and knowledge sharing, but we can’t be complacent. We need better cross-business cooperation, talent retention, and organizational communication. 
Expect debrief sessions on specific survey results, which vary by operation and will need action plans tailored for each.
Again, thanks for your feedback.
92 words vs. 238 in the original—a 61% reduction.
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