3 min read

How many reviews is too many reviews?

A laptop rests on a table, where one person's hand if pointing to the screen, and another person uses the trackpad.
Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

You have written a great document. Now what?

Right now it’s your document (unless you have tried to write it as a group, which I don’t advise. More on that another time). It is your vision, your words, your story. But unless your writing a journal, you have written this document to be shared. How and when should you share it?

I was given a fantastic piece of advice by a former manager. She said to share your document when you are most embarrassed by it. This was after I had spent about 80 hours on my strategic roadmap, and had guarded it more closely than the crown jewels! To put it bluntly, the doc sucked! It was written beautifully (or so I thought), but I hadn’t gathered opinions and feedback from others. I had missed the point, assumed a level of knowledge my readers didn’t have, and worse, I thought the document was amazing.

[Cue sad music]

I’d wasted time perfecting a document that was telling the wrong story. Had I shared earlier and with more frequently I would have been able to course correct. I would have built on the feedback and my doc would have been a lot better.

So don’t forget to share. Share often, and share broadly.

By sharing when you are most embarrassed, but I would add, when you have read it and run it through spellcheck, you aren’t as attached to your document as you could be. The more time you spend on something, the more likely you are to take feedback to heart and shut down to the messages received. Think about projects you have worked on previously. If those projects were delivered in an agile way, you will have likely course-corrected, or even halted progress to refocus on another area that was more important for your customer. Now think about projects that don’t have regular reviews. How often has the wrong thing been delivered and nobody used it?!

It’s similar with documents. The more you review, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more you can refine. The more your refine, the better your story will be.

When writing, build in the time to review your document. Think about the right people to review it. This could be a peer who knows a lot about the topic you are writing about. They will be able to help with specific content. It could be your manager, or someone who knows the reviewer well. They will be able to guide you on style, likes and dislikes. These people will also be able to help find the “right level of detail”. Then there are your copy-editors. Those people who can find a typo from 100 metres away! Make sure they read it just before you share your final version!

These reviews can all happen asynchronously, but make sure you build in enough time to review, reflect, and amend. Go into these reviews with an open mind. Great reviewers will help you hone your writing skills. Plus, reviewing other people's documents is a great way to hone your own writing and storytelling.

However, timebox the reviewing time. Every hour you spend reviewing a doc before you officially share it is time where the world around you is changing. You don’t want to miss the boat. I feel like it’s better to share a less-than-perfect document to stimulate a discussion, than wait for the perfect doc only to realise the opportunity is lost!

Seize the day. Write the doc! (That would make a great t-shirt quote. Anyone interested?!)

Image shows five gold stars against in the middle of a pink and blue background
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash