Do you want to grow your expertise? Then write!

There are a lot of talks about necessary skills experts in the technical area require. When new talents dive into the technology area (telecommunication networks, electrical engineering, system engineering, etc.) they are focused on the acquisition of the necessary technical knowledge and skills such as: computer skills, programming, systems architecture, hardware design, DevOps and so on.

But if you ask me, there is one skill which stands out good specialists from the great experts: writing. I do not mean writing the code (or programming), I mean writing down the text: for yourself and, more important, for others.

The obscure engineering skill

I myself learned this in the beginning of my professional career in the telecommunication industry. I was applying to the job in the Technology and Business Development Department of the Lucent Technologies. The job interview was made with the man, who became my boss for next few years (Andrey Radkevich).

On the interview we discussed my technology knowledge, skills, my views on technology development in the area of IP/MPLS networks, etc. And then came very interesting, unexpected by me question:

– “Do you write?”

– “Yes”, I said.

Then I asked to clarify, did Andrey mean write technical documents?

– “Not necessarily”, - he said. “Anything: technical documentation, presentations, letters, e-mails.”

Of course I had written many presentations and some RFP/RFQ response documents, as well as plenty of e-mails. I was asked to share with him some documents (of course non-confidential) I produced. And after I sent my examples to him I was accepted in the team of Lucent Technologies.

Later, after talks with my new colleagues in the Andrey’s team I found out that it was standard question he asked all candidates. And I did not understand value of this question until few years later I had to make my own HLD and LLD documents, test reports, user guides and more presentations.

Why true experts must be good writers

Making yourself an expert in some area requires you to get constantly better in the ability to analyze, to decompose complex problems, apply logical analysis and critical thinking to them, propose and develop solution. In order to get better in your skills you need to be able to self-reflect, to look at yourself from the outside. How can you make sure that you:

  • Understood problem right?
  • Analyzed problem right?
  • Decomposed it in the correct way?
  • Proposed appropriate solution?


  • How can you propose your vision and analysis and promote your way of solving the problem to others? To your colleagues and your clients.
  • How can you convince them in a structured and logical argumentation path?
  • How can reflect on the feedback and critics and improve?

I think that the best way is to write it down. By writing your things down and then reading them yourself you can see:

  • How well did you understand the problem.
  • How well did you structure your analysis.1
  • How easy others can understand your way of analysis, thinking, describing hypothesis and solutions.
    • If you are confident and happy with your current result, then you can ask trusted colleague and/or friend to review your draft text and give you his/her feedback.

The hole process is like a project which you implement in small increments:

1: Write → 2: Read → 3: Analyze your errors → 4: Go to “1”.

The main rule: Always critically read your own text, like you see it first time.

  • The best way is to make a break after you finished your writing and read your text few hours later or even the next day.
  • This time break allows you to see your text from a perspective of the outside reader.

The hard point: To face yourself

While many people can write words, and many people are good specialists in their area, only some of them can write really good text and produce clear and well understood documentation, guides, books, presentations. Therefore, only some of them can be recognized as experts and leaders.

I cannot tell for others, but the hardest thing for me in writing is to read my own text by myself, see my own errors (not only in a content, but in grammar, style, wording, logic,…).

In our own minds we have a perfect picture of ourselves, we can do anything from the first try perfectly. And reading my own text, especially first time after first draft - is hard, because my ideal “from first shot into the bull’s eye” view is immediately broken.

When I produced my first documents, I had to re-write them, re-structure them many many times. It was embarrassing and exhaustive to read my own text after edition № N and still find errors, issues, flaws.

Now I enjoy the whole process and reading of my first draft does not scare me anymore. Even more, it brings me fun and I am looking forward to it, because it means that first iteration is done - the draft is here.

My takeaway: You don’t need to fear facing errors in your text. You are not in the school, there is no teacher who will give you bad mark and there are no parents who will shame you for this. You do it for your own improvement and people will see only what you decide to publish, your improved (or maybe perfect) result.

Benefits: This exercise sharpens your mind, builds your thinking, teaches you to expose, explain your ideas/solutions/proposals in a cleaner, better way. And at certain point of time you will see that your mind is changed, that decomposing and analysis of the new problem is improved and easier than before. Moreover, your expert knowledges will be systematized and structured, and incorporation of new knowledge as well as accumulation of new experiences will be faster.


The advantages of having a good writing skill are:

  • You can share your knowledge, way of thinking, expertise with others. You help others to grow by learning from you!
  • You will be better known, recognized in the area inside and outside of your team, your company.

  1. I am not going to talk about tools you can use for problem analysis, like MECE, Issue Tree (Logic Tree), etc. ↩︎