Posted by Tom Grant on May 16, 2008
I've taken a brief leave from blogging to focus on getting the next research document done. (Plus, I took a few days off.) I didn't feel that I could afford the luxury of blogging until, with God as my witness, I finished the next draft.
Writing in the Forrester style is a lot different than writing a blog. In fact, they're almost completely different animals.
Learning a new style can be tough...
Every new analyst at Forrester has to learn how to fit his or her thoughts into a framework designed for a specific purpose: make the document easy to read, at whatever level of attention the reader wants to give it. It's a foreign concept for people who learned, way back in our school days, a more linear writing technique.
Take this blog post, for example. I'm going from point A to point B, which connects to point C. You have to follow the chain of argument, if you want to understand why the author has reached a particular conclusion, foreshadowed in the introduction, and proclaimed with confidence at the end.
The Forrester style has a logical structure, of course, but it's designed so that I won't be mystified if I skim parts of the document. In fact, you can get the basic argument just from reading the headings. The text under these headings provides the explanation and justification.
The Forrester style has other dimensions, too. For example, every document tells a story, so the narrative follows particular dramatic conventions. If a document doesn't have a real story to tell, you'll never see it on the Forrester web site.
...But it's worth the effort
These conventions definitely apply outside Forrester. For example, back in my grad school days, I remember cringing while a professor got eviscerated by his peers. To paraphrase one of them: "You have a lot of interesting facts, but no interesting conclusions." Which is the academic equivalent of Truman Capote's famous quote, "That's not writing, that's typing."
Learning the Forrester style feels like moving from songwriting to screenwriting: both are equally good, but designed for different purposes and audiences. (And all props to people like Nick Cave, who successfully span fundamentally different media.)