RE: being seen

Subject: RE: being seen
From: SIANNON -at- VISUS -dot- JNJ -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2001 13:42:42

>>He asked, "do all technical writers go out of their way to learn as much
>>about the technology as you do?"

>I was recently in a developer's meeting, and started answering questions
>that the lead developer was asking. He said, "How do you know this?" I
>answered, "It was in the document from the project manager last week."
>quickly replied, "I've got to quit deleting his email before I read it!"

I became amused when I realized that for our project, I have become the SME
for the system as a whole; the project manager came to me for the "frank,
analytical tour" when he first got transferred in (we scared off two other
managers before we got him). Because the system is so complex and heavily
interfaced, and the development team so small, the developers each have
their hands full with multiple complex components they are personally
nurturing. They can't always see the downstream interdependencies when one
aspect of the system is changed, and developer 1 and developer 2 are both
working on different projects within the über-project at the same time, so
they sometimes come to me to find out what each other is doing (there's
that gatekeeper role again).

I've also noticed, in hindsight, that my role as the detail-gestapo has
been utilized by my team to nudge other teams' developers (those on
interfacing systems) into addressing sticky topics and design issues that
try to break our system, without them taking offense or feeling
"threatened". Since I am not a developer, I am not seen as someone who'd
be demanding changes to their "baby" (which is the subconscious fear
usually underlying inter-system development feuds), and so I have the same
ability as the child who revealed the emperor's new clothes to ask pointed
questions that might normally trigger a defensive response (and here we
return to Geoff's point on constructively "playing dumb").

Granted, I *have* been actively _forbidden_ to ask *any* questions after
4:45pm on a Friday, following the last three times I brought up nasty,
snarly, conflict-ridden, potentially ugly issues at that time. (*slightly
embarrassed shrug* ...not _entirely_ my fault on the was the
only time I happened to find all my SMEs in their cubes at once...)

...and to all a Cool Yule...


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