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September 14, 2004
Notetaking: Bread and Butter for Managers and Consultants
Topic: 1) General Management
Note taking is a topic that I wanted to write about for a long time because it is not only a highly underrated task but also a bread and butter skill of mine. I have received many positive comments on my note taking skills from colleagues, lawyers, investors, customers, and other professionals. Many have even commented that I well earn my pay just on note taking. Note taking is very applicable to general management, consulting, sales, due diligence, interpersonal communications, and facilitation. Here are a few, overlooked golden benefits of note taking:

1) Taking good notes provides a foundation for making better decisions. Why? There is less possibility for selective filtering and recall of information. Managers have a tendency to remember what they want to hear about what's going on in their business. Same mistakes can be made by consultants too, but a good consultant should be trained to be unbiased and to listen to facts (while documenting the rest too).

2) Taking good notes enables a manager or consultant to engage all types of people in an organization. In a popular personality test known as Myers-Briggs (M-B) typing, one of the dimensions of evaluation is whether a person is an (E)xtrovert or (I)ntrovert type. A common misunderstanding of the term of "extrovert" is that it refers to social butterfly types, people that are outgoing and talkative. Similarly a common misunderstanding of the term "introvert" is that it refers to those that have tendencies to crawl into holes when people come around. While this may be true in common English, roughly speaking, the E and I designations for M-B refer to whether a person is energized by actively thinking about information in the open (Extroverts) or process information internally as their normal mode of operation (Introverts). Bringing it back to note taking, written notes help to engage introverts in the company while providing a script for engaging the extroverts (who actually tend to think out loud). If you engage a person using the wrong channel, you may not get the message across at all.

3) Taking good notes can be dovetailed with editorial comments that drive action and change. There is a fine line between being a secretary (accurately documenting what has happened) and being a change agent. Managers and consultants need to be able to do both. Accurate documentation is required for one to be ethical and to drive unbiased decision-making. However, there is also an important power of the pen. How things are framed, played back, portraryed against business value, etc. can influence what actions come next by an organization.

Steve Shu, Managing Director, S4 Management Group

Posted by sshu-s4 (c) S4 Management Group LLC at 10:43 PM CDT
Updated: September 14, 2004 10:51 PM CDT
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