Re: Why TW Projects Fail. Was Pizza Process.

Subject: Re: Why TW Projects Fail. Was Pizza Process.
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Anthony Markatos <tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com>, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2000 16:52:13 -0800 (PST)

> I've been around awhile. I've worked in-hourse, contractor, and consultant.
> The major failings that I have seen were all due to poor end-user tasks
> analysis, poor estimates - especially firm due date projects, and lack of
> standardization (especially of terminology). Such has been the expericence
> of other technical communicators that I know.

Yes, but you are ONE person with a singular perspective. Your perspective, no
matter how fair and intelligent you may feel it is, is biased. You are totally
incapable of understanding the totality of why anything fails like every other
human who has ever lived.

Therefore, you're just guessing. Not that those guesses don't have merit, but
you speak as if your guesses are facts when they are not.

> Again I'm not talking about one particular company.

Okay - then if these problems are so evident - then why do people keep making
them? IT is most likely because people are stupid, lazy, dolts who want all
the rewards and none of the pain. Now - you can attribute this to the lack of
some inane process. I attribute it to human nature.

> Projects fail for billions of different reasons. .... far too complex for
> our puny brains to comprehend.
> Tony Markatos responds:
> Errr speak for yourself.

Wow! You now possess the ability to comprehend chaos. That is quite an
evolutionary jump, Tony. Can you tell us how you got there?

> Andrew Plato said:
> Therefore, any postulates we have about why those systems fail is pure
> guessing.
> Tony Markatos responds:
> You must be new to Technical Wrriting. It is not that complex. There are
> but a few "core" problems - lots of symptoms, but few core problems.

Tech writing has an enormous number of problems and to think there are a few is
almost laughable. I can think of probably 10 or 20 in just a few minutes and I
am sure there are 100s I can't recall.

Furthermore, tech writing is not some isolated thing. It is a integrated part
of business, technology, science, etc. Seeing it as some distinct,
well-ordered thing with the core problem being a lack of structure is like
saying the United Nations needs a better web server to ensure world peace.
World peace is a little big bigger than the lack of a good web server.

> Andrew Plato said:
> In very general terms, systems fail because it is pre-destined that all
> things will fail. ...... kittens, dinosaurs, and your documentation project
> are all doomed to eventual failure and destruction. This is the nature of
> the universe -not a "problem" with companies.
> Tony Markatos responds:
> Kittens will fail????
> Anyways, if you are talking from a biblical perspective; then yes: all that
> man does is "dust in the wind". Having said that, I have created, and I
> lead projects that created, some exceptionally end-user friendly
> documentation.

Well congratulations. However, that does not make you and expert on how
technical writing projects fail. I just successfully cleaned all the moss of my
roof this afternoon - that does not make me an expert in roofing or moss.

Tony, don't get me wrong. Your love for the process is a very common and
pervasive attitude in our profession. Moreover, there are always people who
feel they have the answer to make something work. These are not unnatural or
incorrect expressions.

However, I disagree with you as to where you believe the "core" of our
profession lies. In my judgment, structure and processes comprise one piece of
a very large, complex pie.

Think of this in terms of a car. A car needs a structure to exist. It needs
form. But without function and energy that car will never move. Since the
nature of a car is to move, it must possess the function and energy to do so.

In a tech writing project, a process may give that project an existence and
means. But it does not provide it the ability to be completed successfully.
People must possess the knowledge, intelligence, and motivation to implement
those processes to fulfill the project's objectives. Since it is the nature of
a project to be completed and produce something - without motive force (people)
all projects are failures with or without a process.

We all know of instances where projects did succeed but did not possess a
formalize process. According to you - this is no possible, yet it happens and
is happening. According to your statements, the lack of a process will doom a
project to failure.

Therefore, since we both know there are projects that succeeded without a
process - then the core problem of any project cannot be the process.

Now, would you like fries with that?

Andrew Plato

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