Guide to writing one, two, and three pagers
Many companies, including Amazon and Atlassian, leverage narratives as a mechanism to encourage leaders to write down their ideas, review it with peers, rewrite it when necessary, and dive deep into ambiguous areas before presenting the idea to the intended audience. This also means that the audience expects a crisp document without grammatical or punctuation errors.
Narratives that are written in the form of a story are the single best vehicle we have to transfer an idea to another person
A mentor of mine introduced me to the G’SOT framework that I’ve been using for the last 10-ish years to write one to three pagers. It’s a model that I’ve found to work well to structure ideas and create documents that flow well.
G’SOT is an acronym for goal(s), strategy, objective, and tactic.
- A goal is a broad primary outcome.
- A strategy is the approach you take to achieve a goal.
- An objective is a measurable step you take to achieve a strategy.
- A tactic is a tool you use in pursuing an objective associated with a strategy.
This model can be applied to a broad set of topics; from big business problems to tactical issues such as tackling the operational load on a team.
Let’s imagine for a second that you are a senior leader at a very large corporation with dwindling sales. You can use the G’SOT model for this. Here is an example -
Goal: Make our CRM product the market leader in sales revenue by year XXYY.
Strategy: Convince buyers that our CRM product is the the best on the market by associating with large, well-established customers.
- Retain 70 percent (or more) of CRM market according to the Gartner benchmark report.
- Increase installs per customer (i.e. sell more products into existing accounts)
- Partner with strategic solution partners (e.g. Deloitte, Accenture, …) to offer modern CRM solutions for digital transformation projects
- Utilise partnership with strategic solution partners to increase installs per customer
Let’s now explore something on the opposite end of the spectrum. Imagine you are a Development Manager and you just inherited a service from another team which has increased the operational burden for your team. Again, you can use the G’SOT model to come up with a plan.
Goal: Reduce operational load on Team FOO by FYXX QY.
Strategy: Make the service resilient to the top 10 sources of operational pain.
- Reduce number of HOTs by 40% quarter over quarter.
- Improve availability from 99.92% to 99.98% as measured by the number of 500s.
- Implement rate-limiting to prevent noisy neighbour related outages
- Add API and log monitoring and alerting for all non-200 HTTP responses
These are some very quick examples. When you are writing your document, you will want to dive into the why of each of those points. For example, why is it important for the team to tackle the particular goal. Why is it important to consider the specific objectives you are proposing and what you considered but did not make the final cut. The more details you add to your document, the more credibility you will build.
Lastly, make sure you have someone review your document for grammatical and punctuation errors, tone, and flow before publishing.