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Essay Preview: Managing_the_business_risks_of_open_innovation

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MBA Students                                                                                                       mm/dd/yyyy


One Page Document Outline

This summarizes how I would like the Haas MBA students to present Recommendations, Summaries, Analyses or other key management communications.  This outline is meant to be a guide to improve the communication process and make it easier for me, your grader, to align to your positions by highlighting the most salient insights.  Additionally, this is a capability builder that ultimately frees up time for other activities.  All your future managers concur.


The current “deck” process at your place of employment is a result of your manager’s direction that the Marketing organization be very penetrating and intimately knowledgeable of all their projects.  High expectations were set and correspondingly comprehensive output has been generated.  The decks are extremely thorough but require significant amount of time for both the author and reader.  It is estimated that the average 60-page deck takes approximately 20+ hours to write.  Plus the time it takes for our administrators to format and edit.  We believe that adopting a simplified and disciplined communication approach will improve clarity, persuasiveness and efficiency.


This recommends that a one-page memo be written as a replacement for “decks.”  The “1-pager” needs to provide: an executive summary, background, recommendation, rationale, rejected alternate solutions and next steps.  When proficient, we can significantly cut the amount of pages in our presentation while improving comprehension and alignment.


  1. Senior management does not have time or inclination to read numerous 60-80-page presentations.  When you present in person you routinely skip around from pages two to six to 11 etc.  But management pre-reads decks sequentially.  Massive amounts of pages lead to “skimming” and potentially to brand rework from miscommunication or bad decision-making.
  2. 1-pagers force clarity of thinking and reader alignment.  We do not write for writings sake.  We write to align and lead the reader.  Decks are so extensive it leads to multiple interpretations due to the breadth of data presented.  A shorter format requires the writer to prioritize the meaningful over the interesting.  The shorter document is equally thorough but “harder working” and more persuasive
  3. 1-pagers will reduce the amount of time spent preparing for presentations.  One well-written memo is infinitely easier to write then 80 pages of a presentation.  A succinct and compelling 1-pager easily turns into a concise 20-page deck.  It is not double work; it is a capability builder.

Rejected Alternate Solutions

Email and voicemail are not substitutes for writing but mediums for more casual communication.  I believe that these mediums are best used for information updates and asynchronous communication.  Industry research indicates that these mediums cannot be used effectively to sell new ideas or address concerns to the level of detail requested or required

Next Steps

  • Adopt a 1-page approach for all future management (class) presentation immediately.  20% of your grade in this class and 50% of your performance appraisal at your next job depends on you becoming proficient with this structured approach to thinking and communicating.  By adopting this approach now you will gain valuable experience that will become second nature by the time your arrive at your next assignment
  • Use the 1-page format as a basis for verbal presentations.  The 1 pager is an approach not just a written medium.  It works because there is a logic flow that the target can process, respond to and align behind as he or she builds agreement in their mind.  If you have 30 seconds to sell an idea you need this structure and discipline to convince the target of your ideas merit.
  • Practice the 1-pager in your class communication.  The first class assignment requiring it’s use will be given in the coming weeks.

May we have your agreement to this recommendation by Tuesday mm/dd/yyyy.

  1. D. Pearce

1-pager Outline

Summary (One paragraph or about five lines max)

  • Always opens by telling the reader what the document is meant to do.  “This recommends”, “This summarizes” etc.
  • Briefly describe what you are going to tell the reader so they can look for it.
  • Directly tell the reader what you want them to do and by when.
  • Cite who concurs with your position

Background (One paragraph or about five lines max)

  • Give the reader the salient facts they need to know to understand your position.
  • Cite sources if you have them
  • Must have common agreement from other interested parties.  

Recommendation (One paragraph; use as much space as you need)

  • What you want to do
  • By when
  • With the financial impact if any.

Rationale (Your argument for why you are right.  Should be the biggest and meatiest part of the document)

  • Top three to four reasons why I should agree with your position.
  • Use your most compelling data.  Charts sell harder than words.
  • Cite sources
  • Use other data as an attachment or appendix

Financial Impact (If appropriate)

  • Impact on budgets and forecast.
  • Who is going to pay and from what budget.
  • Use charts if possible
  • Acknowledge the current financial buzz and show how you are helping

Rejected Alternate Solutions (If appropriate)

  • Anticipate the reader asking, “what other options did you look at.”
  • Explain why the second or third option is not as compelling as your position.
  • Cite data and sources.
  • Pay homage to those who may support another option and whose support you need.

Next Steps

  • Assume agreement.
  • What are your immediate next actions?  List them.
  • Put a time frame on each.

Formatting Tips to Make Your Document Sing

  • Fit it on one page with font 10 point or larger
  • Margins .25 inch or larger
  • No widows or split infinitives.
  • Use topic sentences.  Underline for impact and signal the reader this is important.
  • Center your charts and graphs.
  • Avoid the passive voice.  It makes the reader think you are unsure of what you are saying.
  • Avoid excessive modifiers.  It takes up space and makes the writer seem frivolous



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