Re: Ruffled Feathers

Subject: Re: Ruffled Feathers
From: Bonnie Granat <bgranat -at- att -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 04 Mar 2001 11:02:00 -0500

John Fleming wrote:
During a short phone
> conversation, the SME suggested I send her a copy of what I'd done, as
> it would help her fill in the details I needed. So I e-mailed a copy,
> and cc'd the person in charge of the project.
> When I checked my e-mail this evening, I found an e-mail from the
> person in charge. She was pretty miffed that I'd sent the copy, and
> that first drafts were supposed to go to the document administrator,
> who would send them to the SMEs for validation.
> The copy I sent was never meant to be a first draft. What it was
> meant to do was bring in some additional information to make a better
> first draft. I guess, officially, I should have sent the copy as a
> hard copy paper document, however, as a time saving measure, I sent it
> as e-mail.
> I could sure use a little advice to help me extricate myself from this
> mess.

I've been in situations very similiar,
John. My advice is this:

First, you cannot extricate yourself.
You didn't follow accepted procedure.
You must say you understand that fact
and will follow procedures in the
future. End of conversation. Your
"person in charge of project" will be
happy. Just admit your error and be done
with it.

Second, you copied the person in charge
of the project in an act of professional
courtesy. Do not do that in the future,
if you ever again send a "pre" first
draft, do not extend professional
courtesy to that person in charge of the
project. The person in charge never has
to know about it if that SME or another
in the future requests you send what
you've done so far.

Third, the best way to handle ruffled
feathers is to look at the issue from
the point of view of the person who is
unhappy. The person in charge lives
within a structure that cannot cope with
your action. It's not possible to change
a "process" (forgive me, Andrew) in the
middle of a project, so your person in
charge feels helpless and adrift if she
has to step outside the "procedure",
even for a minute.

The solution here is to decide down the
road if it is worth arguing for a change
in the procedure that allows for minor
deviations when SMEs request such

So, my advice is to say, "Oops, sorry,
won't do it again." and merrily go about
your business, being careful to withhold
the professional courtesy copy if you
should ever want to send a pre-first
draft to an SME again.

Your relationship with the SME must
guide you in knowing when you must ask
them for their complicity and silence in
your transgression.

Bonnie Granat


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