Transcript from the "Executive Summaries" Lesson
>> Executive summaries. If you get nothing else from this particular writing portion of this course, I'm gonna say that this will get you the most bang for your buck, let's go for that. I love this from stripe this was very strong at the stripe culture and I brought it with me to snowflake and I've seen now at snowflake other people are adopting this because they like it so much.
[00:00:28] At stripe we called it the BLUF the bottom line up front, and it's basically you have this entire doc and at the top you have two to four sentences is like here's the problem, here's why it is, here's our solution. And there is a strong culture at stripe if like, if you read that and you agree with it, you can skip reading the rest of the Doc and no one will expect you to have read the rest of the Doc because there's so many docs at stripe.
[00:00:59] It is impossible to read all of them, right? So that's why the culture of the BLUF came around of like, write something at the top, if you are fine with what that says, cool, you're done, stop reading right now. Now generally, me personally, I'd read the BLUF if I liked it, I was like, all right, I'm just gonna skim the rest of the Doc here make sure there's nothing cool for me to read here, cool, no, I'm done, right.
[00:01:23] I invite you to undertake this practice because if you can put this right at the top and put a lot of emphasis on it, you'll get your point across really quickly, this is truly how you unbury the lead in your docs. Because, inevitably, you have to write a bunch of context, write why you made decisions, why you chose this product over this product, why you made this design choice over this choice.
[00:01:48] If you do have to explain some of those things, but the BLUF helps you get around that of, okay, I'm skipping all context, and I'm going to tell you exactly what I want to tell you. So, start doing it in your own docs, you can call them executive summaries, at Reddit, we called it the TLDR, The Too Long Didn't Read, whatever your company calls it.
[00:02:12] I think the general term for it is executive summary, but I read it on every Doc that I expect anyone to read. So, again, good bolding here, a good summary is designed to eliminate the need to redo the rest of the Doc. So, write the takeaway, write the absolute just skeleton of the context needed to get your point across and then describe the delta.
[00:02:41] And when I say the delta, it's like that's the change set, that's like we are here now and we are gonna be here now, what's the gap? The delta, that's it, that is all I try and put inside of executive summary. The best ones are one or two sentences, I give myself up to four for really long things, I don't go above four, unless I go to five, then I generally try to go back to four, but sometimes it happens.
[00:03:07] Rules are made to be broken. Okay, how to cheat, this is actually something that ChatGPT or Bard or whatever is actually very good at. These AIs are really good at taking a long doc and summarizing it into a couple of Docs. I use Notion because that's what Snowflake typically uses internally, and what's cool about that is you can just say, Notion AI, write me a summary.
[00:03:35] And generally it writes you like a 80% good one, I spend a little bit of time getting that 80% to 100% good and then I'm done. In other words, definitely write your summary last, do not start with your summary because you don't know what you're gonna write yet.
[00:03:51] And it is the most important part of your Doc because that's the part that you're hoping everybody will read. But this is definitely something that can help. Don't put company secrets in the ChatGPT we don't know what those people are doing [LAUGH] and most of your companies will be very dodgy that is okay I got this out of ChatGPT.
[00:04:12] There are some that you can run locally Llama is one of them that you can actually run locally on your computer. If you'd have something like that, and a lot of products have a built in, like Notion, but I'm sure some of the other ones do as well and Microsoft has it built into theirs as well.