When Elie Wiesel finalised the first full draft of his book ‘Night‘, it was over 800 pages in length. After numerous edits and rewrites, the final version was only around 80 pages. It is a powerful, deep book in which there are no superfluous words. This process took time. Lots of it. Both the writing and the rewriting.
When we conduct workshops and use post it notes to capture ideas, feelings, challenges, we often get platitudes like ‘Leadership is key’ or ‘Shift the power’ or ‘Enable the frontline’. And we can be frustrated by these. We tend to hope for or want the final version of ‘Night’ on a post it without the editing and rewrites.
First drafts and post its are to start conversations, not to be the final product. They are to capture ideas as jumbled as they come and sometimes platitudes sum it up best. However, it is in the discussions they come to life. It is in the discussions that we hear the nuance of perspectives, the context from which you experience life.
‘Tell me more about….’ is a simple invitation to the other to tell us stories, experiences, ideas. They are the times when we get the long version, which we can then ‘rewrite’ as we speak back what we hear. And through the conversation, we go from 800 pages to 80.
Post its are the spark, not the end product.