Pizza Process

Subject: Pizza Process
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Techwrl-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 19:16:57 -0800 (PST)

I haven't beat on processes in a while. Seems like it is a good time to do so
again.

> Technical writing is very hard. It requires a high degree of mastery in two
> difficult areas, technology and writing. To add any more burden [DTP] than
> that is to ensure poor quality results in every aspect of the job. No human
> being can be really good at that many different things at once.

A human can do anything he/she is motivated to do. There are people who are
both creative and technical, in spite of what the world thinks. The human mind
has no limitations except those we believe are there.

Inside all people are geniuses and morons, lovers and tyrants, saints and
sinners. We chose that which we are and what we are we become. If you chose not
to develop your skills - you will remain unskilled. If you chose not to
educate yourself, you will remain ignorant. If you chose hate, you will be
hated.

Deep, eh?

> Now, I ask you: Think of documentation projects that really did not turn-out
> too well. Next, ask yourself, what were the major culprits. Were they a
> lack of writing, editing, or grammar skills? Lack of knowledge of the
> latest DTP technology?
>
> Or was it that:
>
> 1.) No (or little) effective end-user task analysis was performed.
> 2.) Estimating was either done poorly or not at all. This includes firm due
> date projects.
> 3.) While the grammar was good, there was no standard use of terminology:
> one chapter called something an apple, another called it a banana, another
> an orange.
> 4.) No flow-charts were created to plan the organization of the
> documentation. I'm sorry folks, software systems, especially larger ones,
> are notoriously non-linear - tasks lists just don't do the job!
>
> From what I have been exposed to, and other TWs that I know personally, it
> has always been the latter category.

Ahhh - the perfect tautology. "It's what I've seen so it must be true." Last
night the moon was red. Since I have not seen the moon in a long time
(wonderful Oregon winters) the moon must now be red. Right?

I am so glad I took that logic class in college. It really helped my a**hole
skills.

I can't say I have seen all the possible failure points for tech writing
projects, but if Tony gets to guess about what causes tech pubs failure then so
do I...

1) Extreme laziness - writers who just don't give a crap about what they are
doing.

2) Ignorance of the technologies and concepts involved in the project- writers
who prefer to obsess over fonts and process models than knowing how something
works.

3) Incompetent management - managers who are too busy stroking their egos or
their process models to really get in the trenches and make a project work.

4) Failure to focus on the product then on the process. It doesn't matter how
you get there if you can't deliver the product you're a loser. Nobody cares if
the pizza guy drives a 1976 Plymouth Volare or a 2000 Mercedes CL600 if the
pizza is wrong, cold, or uncooked.

Pizzas make a good documentation metaphor, so I'll go off a little further...

A) People don't care if the pizza was labored over by a skilled, passionate
chef or a 19 year old with pimples as long as the pizza tastes good and gets to
them on time.

B) People also don't care if the pizza was cooked in a gorgeous $87,000 French
pastry oven or on a rock in the sun as long as it is cooked correctly and
delivered hot.

C) People DO care if the pizza costs $9.95 or $199,999,999.95.

D) People DO care if the pizza is missing any ingredients they ordered.

Do you get my point or have I labored this metaphor too much?

As I have said 1000 times before, a process, a model, a spec, or whatever
acronym is hot this week is only as good as the people who use it. Build the
world's most exquisite process, a monkey could not be productive using it
because it means nothing to him.

Sheesh - I'm hungry now! Pizza pizza!!!

Andrew Plato
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