Writing Better: Learning from Nucor

Jul 21, 2014 | Better Writing

Nucor gets a lot of things right

Nucor is an impressive company. They’re the largest steelmaker in the United States. They’re also North America’s largest recycler of any material.

They’re a pretty creative bunch, too. They’ve been responsible for several major technological breakthroughs, but that doesn’t mean they always get it right.

Getting right means getting it wrong

The company doesn’t have a Research and Development department. Instead, they expect workers and managers to come up with ideas and try them out. That means that a hefty percentage, Nucor says about half, won’t work out.

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably noticed that a goodly percentage of your great ideas, say about half, don’t work out. When that happens, follow Nucor’s example.

Keep your bad ideas around

Every Nucor plant has a storehouse for technology and equipment that just didn’t work. Those things often spark ideas for new and better things to try. Sometimes circumstances change and an idea that wasn’t that good before becomes very good.

Nucor expects people to wander back to the storehouse from time to time, to look for good ideas among the bad. You can do the same thing.

Don’t get rid of your ideas that didn’t work. Keep them someplace where you can check on them regularly. You’ll discover that some will work now, if you give them just a little twist. Others are perfect for meeting a current challenge that didn’t exist before. And some will spark new ideas that could have a big payoff.