How to write an advice document?

Too often… I notice that people stumble with writing advice. With some basic guidance, this shouldn’t be that hard!


So what should an advice document look like? Let’s start with the high level skeleton of this document ;

Management Summary
Most (upper) management does not have the time / interested to go into details. Do not get annoyed by this, it’s just how it is… Therefor start off your document with a “management summary”! This in fact an Elevator Pitch or the details of the document below. In regards to timing, this is the last chapter you write. Yet do NOT put it at the end as a “Conclusion”, but in front as a “Management Summary”.

Context matters! Really… CONTEXT MATTERS! 😉 Describe the specifics of the environment you are working in. Describe the culture, the principles at hand, the history of things, … anything that matters into shaping your advice.

Current Situation
Do not jump to conclusions! First describe the starting point… Why do you want to advice things? There is nothing wrong with the way we are working now, or is there? Give an indication towards the circumstances and the effect of those aspects.

Ideal Situation
Now describe your “ideal” (given the context!) situation. Provide a thorough insight into the aspects the ideal situation solves and the motivation why you want to change things.

Path to…
Now we know the starting & the targeted goal, so it is time to set the path. In most cases, an immediate jump towards the end goal is not feasible. In that case, describe the intermediate steps that need to be accomplished to reach the goal.

I hope this was helpful and improves the advice documents you write. Anyhow, here is a quick cheat sheet to in case of emergency… 😉

You think your business has it rough?

Macworld features an article called “Ten business lessons from ‘Battlestar Galactica'”

A summary

  • 1. Tech isn’t always the answer. : Totally agree… IT-ers tend to always go for a tech solution where a human solution might suffice!
  • 2. Don’t neglect training. : I guess nobody will disagree here, but companies often don’t see the hidden cost of neglecting to do so.
  • 3. Some things can’t be outsourced. : I’ll repeat it again; Outsourcing is good, but don’t do it on stategical areas!
  • 4. Update your antivirus. : Personally I’d like to see this one renamed to “keep your organization up-to-date”
  • 5. Democracy doesn’t always work. : A simple Project Management lesson; It’s a democracy until the scope is set, then it’s dictatorship!
  • 6. Some problems can’t be killed. : Indeed, not all problems can be killed, just learn to cope with them.
  • 7. Seek strategic alliances with competitors. : So true! Being a stategic game fan, I found that alliances either make or break any outcome of a game. The numerous time I’ve “won”, is always due to making (and breaking!) stategic alliances.
  • 8. Don’t store all your backups in one place. : Better renamed to “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”.
  • 9. The mission can change at any time. : A bit like 4., the world keeps evolving, incorporate that in your strategy.
  • 10. Beware of visionaries. Zealots make bad leaders. – Awh, crap, that’d be against me… 😉

Top Ten Communicators of 2008


  • Barack Obama – As his star continues to rise, there’s just no contest for #1 Best Communicator.
  • Tim Russert – He was one of the best, and we’ll miss him.
  • Randy Pausch – An unknown, until he gave one speech about his mortality. (I personally loved his mortality speech and must admit a certain sadness when I discovered he lost the fight against cancer in July 2008.)
  • Colin Powell – Always great, in 2008 he gave the interview of the year.
  • Mike Huckabee – The one repeat from last year – he can’t be held down.
  • John Chambers – A remarkable businessman who’s speaking ability drives his company.Chambers
  • Sarah Palin – A remarkable woman in a remarkable rise to celebrity.
  • Tina Fey – How could she not be on the Top Ten Best list?
  • Anderson Cooper – He’s one of a kind – leading a new breed of journalists.

Source : Bert Deckers’s “The Top Ten Best (and Worst) Communicators of 2008”

My Communication Skills : Good, bad, great?

Communication skills between individuals and in a group are an important foundation for the strategy design and formulation process. There are three different channels involved in the communication process. Only when we pay attention to and master all three we achieve a sound communication process and get good business results.

Bad communicators only talk, Good communicators are able to listen & Great communicators adapt to context!

For more details, check the article “Communication and Strategy Design Process”.

Lifehacker’s Top Ten Conversation Hacks

Last week Lifehacker published a nice article with their Top 10 Conversation Hacks:

  • 10. Feign sincerity with eye contact and repetition.
  • 9. End a conversation with body language.
  • 8. Ask sensitive questions indirectly to skip awkwardness.
  • 7. Use silence to win arguments and nail a negotiation.
  • 6. Soften critiques with the sandwich method.
  • 5. Say “no” gently—or say “yes, but….”
  • 4. Ask questions well.
  • 3. De-code office jargon.
  • 2. “Pace and lead” an irate person.
  • 1. Become a human lie detector.

Check out the original article for the more detailled descriptions.