Having Your Style Guide and Eating Your Fries Too

Subject: Having Your Style Guide and Eating Your Fries Too
From: David Orr <dorr -at- ORRNET -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2001 15:56:43 -0500

I may be able to add some light (foolish me) to the recent discussion of
standards/style guides versus "just get your tail in their and work hard
like me."

If the anti-standards/processes people are opposed to spending vast amounts
of time creating standards and style guides BEFORE doing any writing, they
have a point. So-called "Fourth Generation," iterative, user-centered
development processes recognize that people often don't know what's needed
on a project until they get into it a bit. Especially, we don't know what
the user's need.

However, all these iterative processes, which in my experience work much
better in the real world than linear, waterfall methods, start with
something--product research, task analysis, audience analysis, design
prototypes with user feedback, and go on to prototype chapters/documents
that are iterated and reviewed until approved by users. After a few
documents are produced for a given audience, the experience may be codified
in templates or standards and taught to new writers/developers. However,
each new document is still subject to user input.

W. Edwards Deming, the guy who taught Japan about quality manufacturing,
said that we all need to look at how we do things with an eye to continually
improving the system. We need to measure results, not for rewarding or
punishing, but for seeing how well we are doing. His research showed that
most people do the best they can working in a given system. Given
individuals have a range of performance within which they work. The trick is
creating a system that is like a lake raising all boats (worker's
productivity.) To do this, there has to be some self-awareness of process
(how we do things now), in order to make things better. Telling everybody to
work harder or trying to incent or punish people into working harder is
actually counterproductive, even destructive, according to his research.

When we do process analysis for clients, we always start with how things are
actually being done now (not with how they are supposed to be done). We meet
with cross-functional, cross-departmental teams to document current
processes quickly on butcher paper hung on the wall, using sticky notes and
markers to create the process maps. It then becomes easy to see where
duplications of efforts and disconnects occur. Since the workers are there,
it's easy to change things right on the spot.

M. David Orr
Orr & Associates Corporation


*** Deva(tm) Tools for Dreamweaver and Deva(tm) Search ***
Build Contents, Indexes, and Search for Web Sites and Help Systems
Available 4/30/01 at http://www.devahelp.com or info -at- devahelp -dot- com

Sponsored by DigiPub Solutions Corp, producers of PDF 2001 Conference East,
June 4-6, Baltimore, MD. Now covering Acrobat 5. Early registration deadline
April 27. http://www.pdfconference.com.

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit
http://www.raycomm.com/techwhirl/ for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: Re: Opening PDF/WORD With????
Next by Author: Fries
Previous by Thread: Re: Context-sensitive help - HTML help and VB application (Long Answer)
Next by Thread: RE: Having Your Style Guide and Eating Your Fries Too

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads