Write memo in 10 steps: Where are your priorities?



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A Memorandum It is also intended to provide participants with information to superiors. Too often, however, this becomes a loveless duty. What should you pay attention to, so that the memo makes sense accordingly?

Write memo in 10 steps: Where are your priorities? Write memo in 10 steps: Where are your priorities?

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Professor Dr. Martin-Niels Däfler Professor Dr. Martin-Niels DäflerProf. Dr. Martin-Niels Däfler teaches at the University of Economics and Management (FOM) in Frankfurt am Main.

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First: Concentrate on essentials

Overview

The term "memo" means a piece of information or decision-making that is usually written for supervisors and colleagues. In some Company Such documents are also called "template", "opinion" or "note". Normally, memos are no longer than four pages, although I have already seen templates with more than 30 pages.

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Before you get a step-by-step tutorial, make a remark: The goal of a good memo should be to describe as accurately and objectively the underlying problem or the situation. So, focus on the essentials, as the topic of your memo is usually only one of many problems that your boss or colleagues are dealing with.

Step 1: Answer the principle questions

Overview

Before you start writing, you need to clarify some basic questions:

  • Who are the recipients? How much prior knowledge do they possess?
  • When is it necessary to explain the background or context, and when?
  • How important is the topic of the recipient (Is it "loved" or "hated")?
  • How would the recipient wish to be informed? Is the recipient eye or ear-man, ie does he prefer to receive information in writing or verbally?
  • Does the recipient require detailed information or a summary?
  • Is the receiver fact-oriented or not?
  • Who has to comment on the issue or bring in its position, such as supervisors, supervisors of other departments, colleagues from their own department, colleagues from other departments and external experts (lawyers, consultants, tax consultants, appraisers ...)?

Step 2: Name the priority of the topic

Overview

The recipient must be able to classify the problem or issue immediately. Therefore, try to specify the priority first. For classification, I recommend the so-called "Eisenhower Method" (named after the US General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower).

This results in the following combinations of importance and urgency:

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  • Type 1: rapid, but minor importance;
  • Type 2: urgent and high importance;
  • Type 3: slight urgency, but high importance;
  • anything else is not suitable for memos.

Step 3: Write a concise subject line

Overview

On the high meaning of the subject line was already in the episodes over letters and eMails pointed out. The same applies to memos: Describe the problem or the facts briefly and precisely, ideally as a question. So not "Restructuring Distribution System", but: "How should we redesign our distribution system?"

Because it always applies: Memos are for information or decision-making purposes, they should be short and precise. In general, as detailed as possible and as short as possible.

Step 4: Describe your concern

Overview

Before you begin with the actual remarks, you should let the recipient know what you expect from him.

As a recipient, you read a text differently, when you know that it is something to decide, as if you just take note of something. For example, you could use the following categories: "Take note", "Decide to ...", "Conduct conversation" or "Initiate action".

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Step 5: Identify the problem or situation

Overview

Considering the variety of topics that can be discussed in memos, it is difficult to recommend a general outline. It is always helpful, however, to check whether all important aspects have been mentioned by means of W questions: Who? What? When? Where? As? Why? By which? How long?

If your memo is longer, you should summarize essential statements in (actively formulated) subheadings. In addition, write an executive summary that precedes your remarks. Memos should not only convey information, but also reflect your own opinions and assessments in order to force decisions.

If you write to several recipients who have different degrees of good knowledge of the underlying topic, you can outsource detailed and further information in attachments. For example, a history or history, calculations, legal foundations or details of alternative solutions are suitable (see step 7).

Step 6: Arrange the problem or the facts

Overview

After you have described the problem or the facts, you should go a step further and try to establish a reference to the topic of the company strategy or the profit target.

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What exactly is meant by this? The receivers of memos are, as I said, usually the superiors. And they think strategically and profit-oriented (at least they should do that). Therefore, always show - as far as possible - how your proposal helps to achieve the company strategy or increase the profit.

Step 7: Name solution alternatives with advantages and disadvantages

Overview

Now follows the most exciting part for the receiver, namely the part where you submit your suggestions for solutions. Here are a few tips:

  • Find meaningful terms for solution alternatives (for example, "minimal solution", "comfort solution" or "austerity package").
  • Keep in mind that the alternatives are different.
  • Limit the "solution space" - do not work out too many variants.
  • Say what is needed to implement the solutions - in terms of time, money and personnel.
  • Use a graphical representation (such as a decision tree) for explanation.

Step 8: Name the alternative of non-action

Overview

Frequently in the representation of solutions one possibility is overlooked: namely, to do nothing. Sometimes this can be a quite reasonable alternative. So tell what happens if the problem is not solved. Enter the advantages and disadvantages of non-trading.

Working with scenarios and categories

Overview

It may also be useful to design scenarios ("best case", "worst case"), that is, to predict how a problem or issue will evolve if nothing is done.

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Therefore, as a reminder, the recipient of your memo reads your text very differently if he or she knows that something is to be decided. Therefore, I have already recommended that you use different categories such as "take note", "decide to ...", "lead a conversation" or "initiate action".

Longer memos

Overview

This almost automatically follows: If your memo is longer, you should summarize key statements in (actively formulated) subheadings. In addition, write an executive summary that precedes your remarks.

Step 9: Make a recommendation and name the next step

Overview

In conclusion, your judgment is required. Facilitate the decision by choosing an alternative. Justify your opinion with coherent arguments and examples.

Your own point of view

Overview

If you can not clearly decide on a solution, or if other departments or colleagues may be of the opposite opinion, then for the sake of fairness, all points of view.

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Look out!

Overview

In order to speed up the decision-making and the implementation process, you should also clarify what is to be done in the next step from who until when. Finally, give an outlook:

What does the "final state" look like? For example: "If we manage to implement the new distribution system by the end of 2011, then we will be able to increase our market share by 30 percent."

Step 10: Correct your memo

Overview

As with letters, eMails and other types of text as well, is the last step to be corrected, again in terms of content, spelling, punctuation, style, comprehensibility and form. Now ask yourself the most important question:

Does my memo make it easier for the recipient to decide or understand? If you can answer yes, you may circulate your memo. If in doubt, you need to lend a hand again.

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