Re: Interviewing Subject Matter Experts

Subject: Re: Interviewing Subject Matter Experts
From: Sandra -dot- Friend -at- cbs -dot- fiserv -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 17 May 2001 09:41:59 -0400

Another factor in working with SMEs to keep in mind is that different
people communicate their ideas differently.

I've worked with SMEs who are most comfortable with dissecting, via email,
my interpretation of their explanation, ala "When you explained X, I
understood that to mean X+Y. Is this what you meant?" In return, I
receive crisp, insightful emails that add to the depth of my understanding,
which help me formulate pages and pages of documentation.

Other SMEs have asked me to discuss questions only in person. "I can't
write well, so I never answer your emails" one said, "but sit here and I'll
explain it to you." Point taken. Now we discuss issues in person, and it's
never considered an intrusion for me to wander over to her desk to have a
specific point clarified.

And then there's the SME who feels most comfortable in front of a
whiteboard or a blank piece of paper -- the visual thinker. They
communicate best by diagrams, so we stand around and talk about the diagram
until I get it right.

IMHO, there is no "one size fits all" for interviewing need to
adapt YOUR technique to fit each person you interact with.

Cheers, Sandy

Sandra Friend
Technical Writer
Fiserv CBS International


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