RE: Documentation planning

Subject: RE: Documentation planning
From: Jean Weber <jean -at- wrevenge -dot- com -dot- au>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2002 15:01:19 +1000

I completely agree with John Posada's point:
"Spend the first week writing something and getting it distributed. It
could be only three pages long. Why? Until everyone sees that you
aren't an idiot, they will be hesitant to appear associated with you."

However, I'm not so sure about

When you are hired, you know what you are being hired for.

...nobody is hired with the statement "Come'on
in...maybe we can find something for you to do."
Does anyone get hired without knowing "what the heck" they are going
to be writing about?

Yes, I've been in several situations where (a) the people hiring me didn't know what they wanted or needed, or (b) the situation changed totally between the day they offered me the job and the day I started work (even over the space of only a week or two). Perhaps I was lucky I didn't show up to be told, "Oh, sorry, we don't need you after all; here's your termination notice" but instead "that project was cancelled on Friday, but don't worry, we'll find something for you to do."

Especially in those situations, but also in ones where the people who hired me knew why I was there, but a lot of other people (with whom I would be working) weren't sure what my job was supposed to be, in the first week I often wrote a short memo on what I saw as my role and how I would fit into the project.

Before writing the memo, I would of course have talked with everyone I could, as part of getting acquainted, finding out what *they* thought I would be or should be doing on the project. Usually, from this would emerge at least two -- and often more -- contradictory and incompatible ideas. So the memo would serve the very important function of getting ideas out in the open for people to discuss and sort out *before* these incompatibilities became serious liabilities.

I think this is relevant to Shauna's original question, though it certainly doesn't answer it in any detail; it's just a first step.

Shauna, I'll try to find time to answer you more fully. Most of my jobs over the last 10 years or more have involved coming in to "make order out of chaos" -- even if that's *not* what some people in the companies thought they were hiring me for <grin>. Your description sounds *so* familiar to me.

Cheers, Jean

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RE: Documentation planning (was Re: FW: Extreme Technical Writing ): From: John Posada

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