So, how do you get the structure used?

Subject: So, how do you get the structure used?
From: Tony Virostko <tvirostko -at- familydollar -dot- com>
To: 'TECHWR-L' <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 10:22:32 -0400

-----Original Message-----
From: Bissell, Pat [SMTP:Pat -dot- Bissell -at- echostar -dot- com]
Subject: structure vs. substance

I have to work with a documentation steering committee that, in a
year ½ has
come up with a template, a rigid set of standards for heading size,
for different types of documents, margins, tabs and a half dozen
flow charts
on processes to process our processes. They delight in meeting once
a week
to play devils advocate, chat and sip diet cokes. I created 100
documents using the first template, re-did the documents into the
third and am now working on putting these same documents into this,
fourth version of the template. Talk about wasted man hours! A
dozen of
them became extinct before they ever got published (that's
documents, not
committee members). Structure is good, more structure is not
better. We are buried in structure, but have no time for content.

The plan here is to have IT personnel create their own documents.
They have
been doing this all along, but the documents are often hand-written
residing in their filing cabinets and are not shared with others.
Now they
think with this magic template, people will use it and voluntarily
professional documents that we all can use. I keep telling them
that most
of our geeks don't like to write, don't spell well and don't have
time for
elective fun stuff like that. I think we'd be lucky if we could get
them to
submit the hand written notes.

Pat Bissell
EchoStar Knowledge Engineer/Manure Wader
Dammit Jim I'm a manure wader not a technical writer!

I'm facing a similar situation at work in establishing a document format for
the electronic library. Luckily, it isn't a committee level process, but I
still don't think the standard format will get used. Any suggestions on HOW
to actually have people want to use the format? Or is it just a lost cause?


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