On writing

Laurent Bossavit comments in Hiring programmers: "I've met way too many people who were billed as 'programmers' but whose writing skills were so impaired as to cast serious doubt on their ability to perform their main job." My children seem to have lost the skill of using the [shift] key. Nor do they use much punctuation. It's Instant Messenger! For them, AIM is the killer app, the one program that they use constantly. Kids write their thoughts as they have them, instantly, without filtering or organization. Likewise, I've heard it said that salespeople think by talking--which perhaps is why they prefer to use the phone over email. The "instant" nature of phone and messaging makes everything seem urgent. So we forget all about the niceties of spelling, punctuation and logic. And coherence. Writing is indeed a key element of every technology job. Technology employees (in development, marketing, product management, sales) should be able to write a coherent sentence, essay, article. In particular, writings by marketers and product managers are constantly on display. They're in press releases, business plans, presentation notes, MRDs, and so on. Writing leaves a permanent record (for good or ill). Documents get forwarded, and forwarded again-- to Tech Support, Development, sales people, customers, prospects-- who knows? Your writing may be the only thing that people know about you. What impression does your writing make?

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.

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