No time to learn it all?

Subject: No time to learn it all?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 13:18:31 -0500

karen otto reports: <<Remember the adage "Good, Fast, Cheap - Choose Any

Not to trivialize the problem you're facing, but have a look at one of my
articles for some ways to cheat this old adage:
Hart, G.J. 2001. Cheating the quality triangle. Intercom Apr.
You won't escape the basic problem, but might come across a tip or two that
will help you deal with it better.

<<The choice I have made to get help from R&D is to have them cut down my
learning curve. They will review the current product documentation and mark
it up for things that change from one platform to the next. By using their
knowledge of the product, I (unfortunately) won't have to learn it before I
start editing. I will do a kickoff meeting with the reviewers to make sure
they understand
what to do and what not to do. They will be provided with a checklist of
items to look for. I ask you, dear tech-whirlers, how can I make sure I get
the most out of the reviewers?>>

Taking hostages and executing one of them every now and then works wonders
for morale. <evil g> <Fe> Where that's not feasible, begging sometimes

The biggest problem you're facing here is how to make the best use of the
reviewers. To do so, you'll need to figure out what makes each one tick so
you can approach them in a way that will encourage participation. Even with
a formal commitment to help you through cooperation, you can expect that
each one has their own deadlines and other problems at work, so you'll have
to work around their constraints. A few key tips:
- pick the best time for reviews (Monday morning is good: they're refreshed
and haven't yet gotten started on their work)
- minimize distractions (catch them when they're not busy with other things)
- ask for reviews well ahead of the deadlines (haste makes waste)
- help them step back and get perspective (overfamiliarity leads to
- send reviews in bite-sized chunks (small tasks are more attractive than
reviewing the whole book)
- remove obstacles to review (make the text flawless so they can only
critique the facts, not the style; confirm your facts wherever possible so
they can concentrate on ones you couldn't confirm)
- find out how they prefer to review (online, on paper, verbally) and
provide the material that way
- choose an appropriate number of reviewers (there's such a thing as too

(These are borrowed from: Hart, G.J. 2001. The physics of reviewers.
Intercom Feb. 2001:44.)

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

Hofstadter's Law--"The time and effort required to complete a project are
always more than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's

Now's a great time to buy RoboHelp! You'll get SnagIt screen capture
software and a $200 onsite training voucher FREE when you buy RoboHelp
Office or RoboHelp Enterprise. Hurry, this offer expires February 28, 2002.

Have you looked at the new content on TECHWR-L lately?
See and check it out.

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