Production of documents and reports inside corporations is a hugely inefficient process, because of a number of reasons:

  • Using the face-to-face meeting format to discuss small text edits
  • Do zero preparation for such a meeting, and start reading analyzing the text with the junior analyst in front of you
  • Because of this lack of preparation, completely upend the start of the presentation because critical bits are missing, without reading things to the end
  • Having too many people involved: lots of captains on the ship giving contradicting input
  • Refusal of senior managers to make tiny text edits directly into the text themselves

I remember this from my early days as a junior analyst at McKinsey. Fight 1 hour of traffic to drive to a meeting with a senior client and/or partner. Listen to small talk, get send out to make paper copies, multiple people making edits to slides with pens, make copies again, back into the car, in the office at your desk failing to read the hand writing, going back and forth via fax machines until you get it right. Technology has moved on a bit, but document editing is still pretty much the same today.

When I start to work with a new client there is usually a small adjustment process, especially when we are on different continents. Am I a junior analyst who needs paragraph by paragraph instructions? He is 7 hours ahead, but hey, I am the client and get to set the meetings. Better schedule frequent update calls to make sure he stays motivated to press on. 

After a while, clients discover the luxury of an overseas design partner. Make small text edits yourself, jot down broader comments in a box on the slide, hit send before leaving the office, and hey, all is done when you come in the next morning. Sometimes not being in the same physical location makes life easier for everyone involved.