Pippa is co-CEO of Board Intelligence.
I was fortunate enough to have a good education. I worked hard and did well. So, when I started my first job, I thought I could write. Even though I’m dyslexic and not a strong reader or writer, I was confident that I could do it well enough (don’t ask me why — the blind confidence of a 20-year-old!).
I laboured under this misapprehension for a while. It wasn’t until I started spending more time reading board papers that I realised my confidence was misplaced — and that plenty of others had the same problem. Good writing was vanishingly rare.
Over the years that followed, my co-CEO Jennifer Sundberg and I built our playbook to help boards have better conversations and unleash their collective intelligence. To do this, we had to go back to first principles.
What were the conversations that boards wanted, or needed, to have? What information would help them have those conversations? And what was getting in their way?
It was in decoding the answers to these questions that it finally clicked for me.
Convention was getting in the way. The tenets of good communication that we all learned at school and that were reinforced at work were, quite simply, the wrong ones.
I was falling into the same traps as the executives behind those board papers. We were all using deeply entrenched and widely accepted rules that did nothing but get in the way of clear and compelling communication.
It wasn’t about complex rules of grammar (which my primary school-aged children are now teaching me!). It was about structured thinking. Good writing is good thinking.
It was music to my ears. From then, I knew that my ability to communicate wasn’t tied to the number of sophisticated words I could use, my grasp of those grammar rules, or how many pages I could write. Solid thinking, communicated simply and without fuss, was all I, and anyone else, needed.
My hope is that the book I’ve written with Jen, Collective Intelligence: How to build a business that’s smarter than you, opens a world of opportunity for people like me. A world in which sharp thinking and powerful words combine to achieve more than we thought possible. And more than we could on our own.
Collective Intelligence: How to build a business that’s smarter than you is available to pre-order now and to buy from 9 November.