Re: Drafts yet again

Subject: Re: Drafts yet again
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 24 Sep 2002 17:21:30 -0700 (PDT)

All this wrangling about work in progress!

Surely you have seen instances of:

* Some writers who are 'way ahead of others, so the
manager must assess the progress of everyone to know
how best to shift assignments to meet deadlines.

* Some writers who are, uh, *somewhat ego bound* to
work in progress and thus feel threatened for *anyone*
to view it until it is pristine--while everyone is
held up.

* Some writers who are so far behind in a project that
it jeopardizes delivery deadlines--but no one knows it
because it "isn't ready to be seen yet".

* Some managers who are not and will never be in
contention for "Most tactful employer" awards.

I am sure there are other situations, too, that are
familiar to most of us--and which require that we
should be ready at any time for managers or SME types
to read our work in progress.

In one position I had, there was a new procedure for
producing documentation. I was assigned to create an
online programmer's reference--with at least four
different people in the software development
department to answer to, each of whom had contrasting
instructions and expectations. I could not get
*enough* attention from the documentation manager to
resolve the situation early enough. Ultimately, my
contract was not renewed--I am sure much to everyone's

In another contract, another writer and I had to bail
out various others as they ran far behind schedule. If
the working files hadn't been accessible, that might
not have been possible. The last minute rush to get
the deliverable out the door meant we all had to do
things that were given to us with no time to spare.

Thus, I learned that we should *always* invite
frequent and clear oversight. In my opinion, it is
most unfortunate if a writer falls into a habit of
being secretive about any work in progress "until it's
ready to be judged." In a situation with multiple
writers, I simply don't think that many shops with
constrained budgets can afford that approach very

For a manager to be tactless and harsh about a work in
progress being imperfect--yes, I think that is pretty
stupid. Under the circumstances, it was most likely
even unfair.

But then, *life* is unfair quite often, isn't it?

Two important lessons to learn, then: Always do your
best, even in working drafts, and be ready for them to
be looked at with no notice. If and when you are in a
lead or managerial position, remember how it feels to
be on the receiving end of criticism.

More succintly: Be prepared. Play nice.


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