Whether you're the writer, a co-writer on a team, a manager directing a group producing a document, or an executive responsible for documents written by others, you need to know whether or not a writing project is headed in the right direction. And you need to know this as soon as possible.
The Review should be conducted after the Focus Statement and the Tree have been completed but before the First Draft is written. Its main purpose is to review the thinking you and/or others did in planning the document. To be sure that it addresses the right problem and the right people and to confirm that it is well-structured. You do this by reviewing the main planning products: the Focus Statement, the Tree, and, perhaps, the Reader Analysis charts. But you also want to look for what is not there, to anticipate that bolt from the blue.
The method for early warning Review presented here is called a Structured Walk-through. It is humane, efficient, and effective. Writers are treated as intelligent human beings, expert knowledge is used productively, and everyone's time is saved.
Most reviews take too long and are unpleasant, if not damaging, to the writer being reviewed. Colleagues can always see alternative ways to do anything. They also quickly develop emotional interests in one possibility or another. If the discussion is not controlled, the writer is often put on the defensive. It all goes down hill from there. And it takes time!
A Structured Review avoids both problems by limiting the time spent and by keeping the discussion focused on problems, not solutions. The group, thus, acknowledges that the writer is responsible for correcting the problems noted. In doing so, they acknowledge the intelligence of the writer, as well. The writer feels that he or she has received useful commentary, not suffered a personal attack. And everyone saves time.
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