Adapting to Your Organization
This site is designed for those who prepare briefings
for colleagues, supervisors, senior executives and cabinet ministers.
Practices for preparing briefings vary widely
from one organization to another, whether they be corporations,
associations, governments, government departments or even branches
of the same department. Despite this, you should be able to apply
virtually all the principles set out here — with a little
fine-tuning to adapt them to your organization's practices.
If your organization has prescribed formats for
briefings, you might have little choice but to follow those formats.
The purpose of established formats is to ensure that predictable
information is placed in predictable places so that busy people
can find it with ease. Those formats should not be discarded lightly.
Whatever might be your organization’s established
practices, great latitude will remain for you to take initiative
in increasing the effectiveness of the material that you prepare.
WritingForResults.net provides many tools and techniques that you
will be able to readily apply in your unique environment.
Furthermore, you should not assume that your organization's
practices are carved in stone. In many cases they aren't. The practices
that are in place may have simply evolved over time, possibly without
a strong rationale to justify them. Or the rationale that warranted
a given practice ten years ago may have long since outlived its
Look for opportunities to innovate while at the
same time remaining sensitive to the needs of those who established
your organization's practices.
Site for Other Types of Writing
Some users might never have an occasion to write
a briefing for a minister or a senior executive. Even so, the tools
and techniques provided here will apply equally when you are just
writing to advise a colleague, your boss or your boss's boss. For
example, the format of a Memo
to the Deputy Minister could serve equally well in many memos
to your colleagues or your boss.
In addition, you will find that the principles
set out in Writing
for Results can be applied to virtually any type of writing
in an office setting. Writing for Results provides 312
pages of guidance, and you may be surprised by the insights you
can gain from it.
Position Titles in Industry,
Associations and Other Governments
Some of the examples found here are oriented to
the Government of Canada, often in the context of briefing the
minister of a fictitious department, Economic Advancement Canada.
WritingForResults.net does not attempt to go into
details on variations that might be required for other governments,
industry or associations. To do so would add to the complexity
of the site greatly while yielding only questionable benefits.
The tools and techniques found here are readily adapted to other
If you work for a private corporation, the position
of chairman of the board corresponds roughly to that of a minister
in the Canadian government. The position of president corresponds
to that of deputy minister, and the position of vice-president
corresponds to that of assistant deputy minister.
Similarly, in the United States government the
position of cabinet secretary corresponds to that of a minister,
under secretary to that of deputy minister, and so on. In an association,
the position of president would correspond to that of minister,
and the position of executive director would correspond to that
of deputy minister.
Again, however, the specific titles involved don't
really affect the techniques you need to use. The guidelines provide
here apply equally whether you are writing to brief a colleague
or the president of your organization.