On the first day of my 11th-grade English class, my teacher wrote in large letters on the dry-erase board “SO WHAT?” and proceeded to lecture us on how answering that question was the single most crucial skill that we could develop for our careers.
Every writing assignment we submitted was evaluated using the same criteria: 1) did we clearly state our points and 2) did we answer “SO WHAT?” — did we effectively convey why our points mattered?
Every day at work, I continue to be humbled by just how spot-on my English teacher’s advice was.
Providing value isn’t just about being the messenger.
Being able to summarize events, facts, and figures clearly is no doubt an important skill, but so too is the ability to understand what’s most important to the people you’re communicating to, anticipate requirements, highlight the significance of the information you’re sharing, and recommend how to act based on that information.
Context is everything. Sense-making is everything.