Re: Handling developers, "the zone" and other myths

Subject: Re: Handling developers, "the zone" and other myths
From: Sean Hower <hokumhome -at- freehomepage -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 3 Jun 2002 09:10:02 -0700 (PDT)

As usual, this discussion is becoming an arguement about two different issues.

Emily seems to be making the point that there are times when working without interuptions makes work easier. An interuption at a certain critical period can throw off your train of thought. And she's right. I know that there have been times when I was in the process of doing complex updates in our online help and an interuption totally derailed me.

Bruce seems to be making the point that to expect no interuptions, 24/7 is just rediculous. And he's right. Because you're working as part of a team, and when it comes down to it, there will be times when someone will walk up to your desk and bug you. It's part of life. You learn to cope. You can grumble, you can even whine, but you will have to learn to accept it.

So, like all things, it comes down to finding ways of interacting with each other, that are amenable to the people involved and to the goals of the company. Posting "office hours" is a good idea for _normal_ circumstances. Having "quiet time" during crunch times is another reasonable expectation. But even with those office hours, people need to realize that other people have dealines to meet too, because a technical writer's deadlines are just as real as a programmer's, or a marketer's, or QAer's (QAer's?....mmm, that doesn't sound right?).

IMHO, there are some things that everyone needs to remember:

1) We all have deadlines
2) We're all busy
3) No one likes being interupted, so minimize it. If you're the TW, collect up all of your questions at once and set up a time to chat with the developer, or send them via email. Don't bug them with day long question sessions (I've done this, and I always feel guilty about it).
4) Don't whine, problem solve.
5) It's the manager's job to manage, if you're having problems that can't be worked out, talk to your manager.
6) Set realisitc expectations. Of course, for some people, realistic is well beyond what can reasonably be considered realistic.

Sean Hower

technical writer

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