Re: Managing Engineers

Subject: Re: Managing Engineers
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000 09:59:52 -0800 (PST)

"Hyde, Barb wrote
> Heck, Andrew, they aren't even going to come to you and say, "Here is our
> software, please document it for us."
> One thing your correspondent should be aware of is that the attitude is not
> there because the documenter is a contractor. It is there because engineers
> are engineers and they don't need no stinking documentation (to paraphrase a
> movie line.)

While some engineers are like this, honestly, most engineers do respect the
need for decent documentation. The problem is that many engineers feel like the
writers have zero interest in really understanding what the engineers do.

Engineers LOVE to talk about their work and demonstrate their knowledge. But,
there is an entry fee to get this knowledge. You have to have *some* technical
capability and be able to talk shop with them. If you show with a "I don't need
to know those technical things" attitude, of course they will think you're a
waste of time. You're not helping make their product look better.

If you can't or won't engage SMEs in a thoughtful technical conversation, then
they aren't going to trust you to adequately communicate the design of their
system. Imagine if somebody walked up to you and said they were going to write
a detailed user manual on FrameMaker, but had NO idea how to use the product or
even what it could do (and had no intention of learning). Would you trust this
person to write such a manual?

Andrew Plato

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