Ode to the Poor & Underappreciated ‘Scribe’

Today we pay homage to one of the oldest professions in the world.  No, not that profession!  We are talking about the occupation known as a ‘Scribe.’

According to Dictionary.com, a Scribe is defined as “a person who serves as a professional copyist, especially one who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of printing.”

Before the invention of printing?  That’s kinda, well, um… a long time ago.    Yet, despite the advances of technology and thousands of years of innovation, we STILL have Scribes in the workplace today.

Typically found amongst the junior ranks of a large business, consulting or law firm, the professional Scribe may be one of the most underappreciated jobs that has ever graced the global workplace.

The job of Scribe is, fortunately, not a permanent one in most businesses.  Think of it as a tour of duty, a corporate hazing if you will.  A poor twenty something consultant is paid to wear a dapper suit, while watching the more senior members of the firm facilitate clients and customers through long and arduous workshops.

During this corporate purgatory the Scribe is expected to capture every thought, idea and analysis from the group, using a pair of colored Sharpie pens that (more often than not) have barely enough ink left to write the first three words on any given flipchart.

From 8am to 8pm the poor beleaguered scribe must record the proceedings,  hold their full bladder,  fight hunger pangs and refrain from keeping their Snapchat Streaks in good standing.

That very same evening the Scribe is expected to skip the sumptuous and extravagant client dinner, to accurately and expediently transcribe all of the ‘doctor’s prescription handwriting’ on every single flip chart, over to a PowerPoint and Excel summary.

Oh, the poor and embattled Scribe!   Now at this point in the story we expect some of you may already be mentally curling into the fetal position, recalling your own days as a Scribe.  Goodness knows we had enough of our own thousand-yard stares, after recalling those hazing days, early on in our careers.

Fortunately for our children and the next generation of leaders, the art of the Scribe may soon be a thing of the past.  A way of life that will be as preposterous as hailing a cab.

At ThinkTank we are doing our level best to make sure that this surely is the case.  Digital engagement models are changing how leaders engage teams in group workshop settings.  When everything is digitally captured in real-time during the workshop and live sessions with your customer, there really is no place for a Scribe.  Or at least the way we used to do it.

Digital capture, digital summary and digital reporting.  It’s already here Mr. and Ms. Managing Partner.  So, add another seat to the restaurant reservation this evening and let your smart young go-getters get some client relationship management skills instead!