7 Collaborative writing in business and management
In the previous activity, you wrote your profile by yourself. However, in workplaces many documents are produced by several people working together. This may mean that someone starts by writing something, but then needs to show it to others and ask for their comments and additions. It could mean that a task is divided up and parts are given to different people to prepare. It could mean that some people are asked to collect information from a variety of sources, and one or two others then compile the information into a document.
Purpose: to look at different ways in which a business document may be produced by collaboration between different writers.
Task: to analyse the different contributions of each person involved.
Text 5 was produced by Sheila, an MBA student who was asked to write a profile of the business that she works for (she is a middle manager for Thrift Bank). Text 5 is the first draft of the section of the business profile on the history of the business.
When she had written the first draft, Sheila showed it to two other students (Robert and Helena) and asked for their comments. The students read the draft and suggested improvements to the text using the ‘Insert Comment’ function of the Word programme.
Read Text 5. Which of the students, Robert or Helena, comments on grammar, and which focuses on content?
Then look at the second draft, Text 6, where the changes suggested by Robert and Helena have been put in bold.
Company history (first draft)
Company history (second draft)
(Text source: student assignment, The Open University Business School, 2009)
This activity gives you an example of one way in which you can write collaboratively.
Because writing in organisations today is almost always a collaborative activity, management courses such as the MBA prepare you for your work as a manager by giving you the opportunity to practise writing together.
In the next activity, you have the opportunity to write a text and then get feedback from other students.
Purpose: to write a description of your business or organisation, explaining your current business according to its history, sector, products, services, and so on.
Task 1: write a draft business description or profile as a section of a business plan. You should write about 350 words.
Task 2: post your draft document on the forum (linked below) with a note asking fellow students to comment on it. Ask them to comment on whether the document is clear and easy to understand, and whether they need more information on any parts of it. When you receive their comments, change your document accordingly.
Task 3: read other people’s documents and make comments to them on what you read. Don’t forget to be polite and tactful in your comments.
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By participating in this activity, you should have gained information about fellow students using this course and have started to work collaboratively with them. Probably people have described many different situations: different sectors, different types of industry and different sizes of organisation.
You should now have established written communication with your colleagues and have started to build a working relationship with them. The next stage involves listening and speaking, which form an equally important part of business communication.