Crafting Impactful Reports: Insights from a Writing Session

· November 3, 2017

During a recent writing session, I experienced one of the most intense periods of my life. In just 2.5 hours, I managed to produce 17 pages and 6000 words—an achievement I found both exhilarating and exhausting. However, what truly mattered wasn’t the speed or quantity but rather the quality and process behind it.

My writing endeavor followed four consecutive days of coaching and teaching at a company, where I engaged with approximately 200 individuals across 12-15 teams. These interactions centered around discussing opportunities and challenges in applying agile and lean thinking within their organization.

As the week drew to a close, the inevitable question arose:

Could you summarize your thoughts for us? Provide some insights for improvements and next steps?

With this task at hand, I embarked on a journey of collaborative report writing, which I found immensely rewarding. In this post, I aim to share insights into our collaborative approach and why it proved instrumental in crafting a meaningful report.

Focus on Outcomes, Not Output

Drawing inspiration from an old rhetoric book, I emphasized the importance of considering the audience’s emotional response. This shift in perspective—from focusing solely on the report’s content to envisioning its desired impact—proved invaluable. It echoed the wisdom of Stephen Covey’s “Begin with the End in Mind.”

To anchor our efforts, we visualized the desired outcome on a giant whiteboard, setting the stage for our writing endeavor.

Know Your Audience - Who Is This For?

Recognizing the diverse audience for the report, each with distinct needs, was crucial. We identified various stakeholders, ranging from senior leaders to team leads, and outlined their specific requirements. By personalizing these categories with individuals’ names, we ensured a more tailored and impactful approach.

Impact Mapping - Structuring the Report Content

Adopting a structured approach akin to Impact Mapping, we delineated the report’s content based on desired outcomes for each audience segment. This step involved listing actionable insights and recommendations tailored to address specific challenges and opportunities.

What Are We Going to Write - Deliverables

Transitioning from planning to execution, we commenced writing with a clear roadmap in mind. Leveraging time-boxed iterations, we adopted an incremental approach to document creation, ensuring steady progress and alignment with stakeholders’ expectations.

Deliver in Increments

By iteratively refining and reviewing the document, we achieved a well-structured and comprehensive report in a relatively short timeframe. Through collaborative efforts and a focus on outcomes, we delivered a document that resonated with its intended audience.


This writing session underscored the importance of starting with the end in mind and focusing on the report’s desired impact. By understanding our audience and structuring the content accordingly, we were able to craft a report that truly resonated with stakeholders. Adopting an incremental approach to document creation facilitated steady progress and ensured alignment with stakeholders’ expectations.

I hope this insight into our collaborative writing process proves beneficial to you in your future endeavors.

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