Managing yourself creatively

Don’t Overlook the Power of the Pen

Ratan Meena is now the chief engineer for a tool manufacturer, but ten years ago he was just another supervisor on the plant floor. How did he get ahead? There is no one answer to that question, of course, because Ratan was always ambitious, worked hard, put in overtime, took evening courses to help him increase his value to the company. But one of the things he did regularly was bombard management with ideas via the company suggestion program. So often did he work into the early morning hours dreaming up his ideas and getting them down on paper that his wife jokingly suggested, “Why don’t you get a rubber stamp?” And he did! For a few rupees, he had a rubber stamp prepared in bold type that read: Another idea from Ratan Meena! From that moment on, every single one of his suggestions bore that familiar legend. It wasn’t long before he was tapped for advancement. The moral is clear: the written word is still a first-class ticket to recognition. Here are four ways to harness the power of the pen on your own behalf.


Take a tip from Ratan Meena. Just about every firm runs a suggestion program and rewards good ideas. Think of some, write them up, sign them plainly, and get them on their way. Make them as good as you can and don’t rest on your laurels.


A good idea frequently requires detailed explanation or is meant for the eyes of just one man. In such cases, draw up a memo of two or three pages on the subject, explaining what the problem is, your solution to it, why you think it will work and submit it through the proper channels.


Many firms publish one or more newspapers or magazines for internal circulation. The editors of these “house organs” are at least as interested in getting news as you are in getting noticed. And they are particularly interested in success stories that may inspire others. Hence, you can feel free to “toot your own horn”. Some suggestions for items: the establishment of some kind of record (number of profiles made, number of wells on which simulation studies done, a promotion; the winning of an award, not necessarily connected with your job; your part in providing a computer output of CPU used; participation in a company-sponsored social or civic event. Don’t think that you must be a Arun Shourie in order to submit a news item. Just write down the facts; the editor will gladly whip them into shape.


Whether it’s a thank – you note to a colleague or a hard-hitting “beef” to some editor, letters can be attention getters, too. There are literally hundreds of occasions for sitting down at a typewriter or dictating a brief message such as: congratulate someone on a job well done, a promotion, any achievement of which he is proud; pass along news or ideas; ask for information or advice (thereby transforming the recipient into an “expert”); seek an appointment to discuss some matter of mutual advantage; go on record as approving or disapproving some contemplated course of action; take a “survey” on a subject dear to the heart of the man to whom you are writing; comment on trends in your company or industry.