Situation, Complication, Question, Answer.
Structure your business communication in this format.
I'd particularly recommend every document's opening paragraph follow the SCQA format:
- Situation: what is the relevant context? Example: We've been falling behind our competition in shipping product features for two years. Last year, we doubled our engineering team but shipped fewer features than the year before.
- Complication: why is the current situation problematic? Example: We plan to double our engineering team again this year, but based on last year's experience, we think that will decrease velocity further while significantly increasing our organizational budget.
- Question: what is the core question to address? Example: Should we keep moving forward with our plan to double engineering this year?
- Answer: what is your best answer to the posed question? Example: We should stop hiring for the next six months and focus on gelling our existing team. Based on progress at that point, we should refresh our hiring plan for the remainder of the year.