Re: Summary of Responses: Whirlers and Environments (Long)

Subject: Re: Summary of Responses: Whirlers and Environments (Long)
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Mon, 07 Feb 2000 00:54:40 -0800

Eric Ray <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com> wrote:

> What type of whirler does well in a start-up environment?
>
> * Avoid hiring people who have worked in large
companies with
> structured documentation departments
> * Be a former contactor or consultant
>
>Does it matter that these two are often contradictory? Actually,
if you're
>trying to build a _good_ pubs department in the start-up
environment, you
>should probably seek out people who _have_ worked in large
companies
>with structured documentation departments. At least then you'll
have
>more rounded writers who can draw on a broader range of
experience
>in making decisions and recommendations.

The unspoken assumption in the original comment is probably that
people who have worked in large companies are used to very
compartamentalized jobs, and tend not to have very much
initiative. Based on my experience interviewing for a startup, I
have to say that this assumption is often true. I interviewed
many writers who, told that the rough and ready nature of a
startup meant that they could define their work, retreated in
horror; one otherwise very nice woman from a large documentation
department actually said that the company didn't need her, but
some sort of tech-writing guru with twenty years' experience.
Both her resume and her portfolio showed that she was perfectly
competent, but her attitude cost her the job.

The advantage of hiring contractors is that they are used to
doing a bit of everything, which is exactly what a startup needs.
They may not be experts in everything, but they do know how to
deliver at least competent work. They also know how to organize
and discipline themselves, or else they wouldn't have survived as
contractors. The disadvantages are that they are often unused to
working with a team, and less willing to work the long hours that
a startup often requires.

>That is, all else being equal,
>a writer who has worked in both a large and structured
organization
>AND a startup organization will be in a better position to
assess
>the situation and make meaningful and worthwhile
recommendations.

You're right. Unfortunately, however, someone with this type of
experience is usually fairly senior and too expensive for a
startup to hire.

------
Bruce Byfield, Product Manager, Stormix Technologies
Vancouver, BC, Canada

"J'y suis, j'y reste" - Louis XIV of France






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