RE: Are you a writer?

Subject: RE: Are you a writer?
From: "Wilcox, Rose (ZB5646)" <Rose -dot- Wilcox -at- pinnaclewest -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 14:11:35 -0700

1. Do you “own” the documents you write? In other words, are you 100%
responsible for their production?

Morally, ethically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually, I do.
However, my employers interfere with the process. I currently work in an
organization where managers know best, even when they don't.

I have been frustrated for a year and a half by working on projects where I
have attempted to fill what I see my role as -- the "owner" of document
quality -- only to be overridden by various managers. Other contractors --
even developers -- have been "let go" for simply not going along with the
manager of their unit, even if the disagreement was civil and based on
logic. If the job market was diff, I'd be outta here.

However, there are a handful of projects I've worked on here where I have
been respected and we have produced some quality. Not every manager is this
way, just most of them. I work in a matrixed organization and have now
written or edited small or large works for almost 50% of all the IT projects
within the last year, so I probably have a good feel for the overall culture

My point is that "ownership" is partly a result of the writer's ethics, but
it can be interfered with by management in a work environment that doesn't
respect the individuals skills.

2. Is your work mostly creation of new material or maintenance and
of existing material?

Although I prefer writing from scratch, I will edit for food.

3. Are you actively involved in the development of your organization’s
and services?

No, but not from lack of trying. I consistently ensure that I have covered
the issues involved, then I let go. This consistent approach is not without
risks. As I noted, other contractors have been let go for being so bold as
to disagree with management. However, I do have a good rep here and have
been told that everyone who works with me at this company speaks well of me.
I do NOT want to lose this contract, as I am not independently wealthy and
we all know what the job market looks like currently. However, I cannot
live with myself if I don't at least spell out the risks the management is
under by insisting on badly organized material, not following agreed upon
standards, and treating documents as lacking value. In fact, I prefer to
preserve such comments in a paper trail, just in case.

Sorry, this touched a nerve, unrelated to the main theme of the thread. The
point is, that if you have a job where you are allowed to own the document
quality, you are spoiled. Be grateful. When the economy shifts again, I
will be up and out of here, searching, always searching for that lovely
environment. As a contractor, I need to "bloom where I am planted", work
within the constraints given, and give the best quality I can. I agree with
becoming knowledgeable regarding content, taking an ownership role, and
leading the client as much as possible to the font of quality. However, I
do not think I can necessarily make the clients drink.

Peace like a river. :-)

Rose A. Wilcox
Project Office / Power Trading
Communication Specialist / Technical Writer
Rose -dot- Wilcox -at- PinnacleWest -dot- com

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