Re: Act as if

Subject: Re: Act as if
From: "Doc" <doc -at- vertext -dot- org>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2002 12:01:16 -0400

I agree with Andrew on this.

When I was in radio broadcasting (many years ago) one of my mentors was a
news broadcaster. He told me the single deep secret for delivering the news.

If you can't figure out how to pronounce a name or word, look it up.
If you can't find it, ask someone who knows.
If you can't find someone who knows, say it with authority.

You'd be amazed how well this works. You'll also be amazed at how well
acting entitled works.

The thing to remember about tech managers is that they usually aren't
Dilberted, they are promoted for the ability to manage a coding project.
Even if they're competent at understanding the need for documentation, it is
unlikely (and perhaps undesirable) for them to understand the intimate
details of information development.

This leaves the door open for you to take charge and act the consummate
professional. I'm not implying that you're not already professional, merely
suggesting enhancing the image.

When you walk into a meeting, whether group or one-on-one, be completely
confident. Assume that they need the information that only you have. Have
you ever seen a consultant at work? That's the attitude you need to have.

These managers don't want to have to think about you because you normally
represent another level of complexity that they feel incapable of dealing
with. You need to foster the attitude that they can safely leave this
responsibility in your hands IF THEY KEEP YOU INFORMED.

Here are some simple tactics that will help:
Own your document schedule. You tell them what your schedule is. They own
the deadline, but you own your schedule.

Make sure you have several clearly defined fallback positions available.

Avoid details of your efforts in meetings unless explicitly requested. All
they are interested in is the deadline and the trade-offs required to meet
it. If they need details they'll ask (but they probably won't).

Don't make excuses or apologies. Explain delays with objectivity not

Act as if they need you and they will believe it.

David 'Doc' Lettvin
"Versatile Text for reusability and globalization"
vox: +1.978.468.1105
fax: +1.775.248.0508

Karen Gloor wrote...
> > This morning I sent a carefully worded email to him,
> > my manager and the program manager for this project
> > indicating that I probably should have been invited
> > since this does impact the release as a whole.

Andrew Plato responded...
> Of course you can feel PO'ed, but being PO'ed won't solve the problem.
> Let me ask a critical question:
> In your "carefully worded email"...
> 1. Did you ASK the manager why you did not include you?
> 2. Or did you TELL him, he needs to include me on these meetings?
> Managers of this type are not going to respond to emotional grandstanding
> and issue making. They're busy and quite honestly, docs are not a big
> priority to them. And you're not going to change that perception.
> State your expectations clearly, hold him to it. Keep emotions out of it.
> Don't get angry, be cut and dry. "I need this, make sure I get it.
Snip attribution
> Act as if you are the president of the company, as if you own a Ferrari,
as if
> you can control the world. People respect that attitude and they won't
> away from you.
> Next time they don't invite you to a meeting, act as if you were their
> You're going to be nice and respectful about it, but TELL them to make
> you're invited next time.
> Lastly, if you're not invited to a critical meeting - just show up. Force
> way into the game. But don't make a big deal out of it.
> Andrew Plato

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