So we’re finalizing the layout of Rework with our publisher. We weren’t liking the appearance of the bullet lists in the book though. There were emails back and forth. Then phone calls. They thought we wanted more “flair” or a hand-drawn look to match the illustrations. We said no, we just wanted them to be “clean and consistent.”

But describing designs with words is an imperfect science. The dialogue dragged on for days. We just weren’t understanding each other.

Finally, we decided to show instead of tell. We mocked up quick and dirty versions of the lists in Pages, exported them in a PDF, and sent that over to the publisher. Took just a few minutes yet completely changed the tone of the conversation. It got everyone on the same page, we all agreed, and then we moved on.

Seems like the obvious move in retrospect. But we kept thinking that just one more email would clear up the confusion. It was a reminder of how easy it is to waste time talking around a problem when just getting real with it can get you to consensus in a fraction of the time.