Re: Thank You Re: Interviewing SMEs

Subject: Re: Thank You Re: Interviewing SMEs
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 03:03:02 -0700 (PDT)

"Tina Lison" wrote...

> Some of you requested that I post the project to the TECHWR-l list, if
> possible. I have completed a ROUGH DRAFT of the project. If you are
> interested, you can view it at
> Feel free to send me any
> feedback or comments. If you would like to see the final version, take a
> look at this site after Friday, June 1.

It looks like a good start, Tina. But I am curious why you left out what I
would consider the most important aspect of interviewing SMEs.

Have answers to questions before you ask them.

It is dangerous to venture into unknown territory without a frame of reference.
SMEs with bizarre agendas and emotional attachments to software will lead you
down the wrong path or worse, give you incorrect information. When you ask
questions to an SME, it is best to have some kind of answer in mind. The best
interviews with SMEs are when they merely confirm what you already know.

It very easy to fall into the "this is too complex for me to understand"
mentality and trust everything an SME says. You have to develop some kind of
judgment to decide the relevance and weight of the information an SME hands
you. This is especially true in tech pubs departments where there is an
overwhelming focus on language, tools and format. These places put so much
energy into making templates and arguing over commas, that they forget to ask
basic questions like "why are we doing this?" and "what is this thing's

Andrew Plato

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