Re: KM=BS (mostly)

Subject: Re: KM=BS (mostly)
From: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 17:06:46 -0500

Looks like we've found another topic that can, for some, generate far more heat
than light.

Signs of vapid arguments and signs that the thoughts stem more from a vendetta
than reasoning:

1. Denigration of the topic outright (BS).
2. Denigration of any who would associate themselves with it: <<people weren't
doing their job. They were too busy flaking off and attending "What does the
Semicolon Mean to Me">> or <<managers that are more interested in playing golf
and watching their options tick away then actually managing. This leads to
loafing employees...>>
3. Ties ins that essentially try to point to all discussion lately as being
wastes of time. <<sitting around theorizing about semicolons and pontificating
about processes on TECHWR-L ... well that's the part you SHOULDN'T be doing>>

Well, there's a special little corner of hypocrisy that wastes the time to read
and post AND rail-on about time wasting....

If we look past the personal beliefs (paranoia) that all contractors and
consultants are out to get the honest working business owner and all workers are
just lazy so and so's that can't do an ounce of work and that any suggestion
that looking for ways to make sure that critical knowledge isn't lost might be a
good idea, there were some actual arguments.

On the failure of companies to retain knowledge:
<<They were too busy ... and not in their cubes documenting their work.>>
<<People should be documenting their work and their experiences as part of their

But how can this be? With the usual mantra of "process is evil incarnate" and
"shut up and work you!", since when is documenting the way you work part of your
defined job. In most past posts from the same source it can be inferred that the
role of a documentation consultant is to come in, with preordained expert
knowledge, write the docs, then disappear in a puff of aggrandized ego and
satisfied wallet. Style guides, listing sources, reviewing with SMEs (let's not
forget that the writer is supposed to be an SME), ensuring the documents are
maintainable, all form parts of the process that when brought up on-list usually
attract much fire and brimstone.

If the writer's job is to write the document and the engineers job is to build
the component, who is this hitherto hidden and unmentioned employee (Gollum?)
that documents template creation, best practices, procedures, etc?

<<But, isn't that what a good tech writer is supposed to do. Why then do you
need some system when you have a person who is supposed to be doing that...and
if that person isn't doing that, then why hasn't that person been fired or

Thought a good techwriter was supposed to know the technology and be some kind
of SME that just decided to work doing something else for the time being because
they don't feel like coding or designing jet engine components. According to
certain parties, style guides, templates, design practices and other overhead
were exactly what a good techwriter or engineer didn't do because if they were
it is just a tool to avoid doing the real work. Indeed it has often been said
that any suggestion that the production of written procedural or technology
explaining words be held up to force a review or document process should be met
with a good smiting.

<<I have real problems with "movements" that are nothing more than elaborate
smoke n' mirror games for people to once again avoid their job.>>

So do most people except for the worst of PHBs. But often, you have to dress up
common sense for people to understand it and to generate enough enthusiasm to
get them to participate. Like the "common sense" of IM, some just can't see it
with out the glossy handouts. Everyone learns differently, and it's the sign of
a poor attitude to strike down all with the same blow.

Other times, the processes have to focus on "common sense" because it is exactly
those points that are most often lost when no knowledge management (or what ever
other buzz-word or plain speak alternative you wish) principles or processes are
in place.

I tend to think that these posts are generated in an attempt to avoid doing
one's real job by avoiding to define what their real job actually is. What ever
it is it always seems to be the opposite of what it was yesterday and just one,
little iota beyond what the previous poster was prepared to agree with.

<<Here's a news flash folks - work sucks. You know the part of your job that is
hard, complex, and makes your wrists hurt....well that is the part of your job
you SHOULD be doing because that is adding value. >>

Gee. And here I thought the original topic was looking for ways to allow use to
add more value for the same work and not lose the effort of others and thus get
stuck doing more work. Nothing sucks more than work that has to be repeated or
that was worthless because it was a duplicate effort.

<<You know the part of your day where you're sitting around theorizing about
semicolons and pontificating about processes on TECHWR-L...well that's the part
you SHOULDN'T be doing because that just eats up resources.
And I can't even follow my own advice! So stop reading my stupid posts know it.>>

Now I wonder, who began pontificating first? <<KM=BS (mostly)>> seems to be the
first proclamation on this topic. Why don't we just forget this little lapse and
veiled insult against those that know there's something worth discussing here.
We'll concentrate and perhaps we'll come up with some ways to get more light
from the heat of our work and add enough value that our managers (and perhaps
even ourselves) can legitimately go out and spend some more time out on the golf
course and we can all bathe in the glow of our rising shares.

Eric L .Dunn

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