RE: Who is responsible? (was living doc article)

Subject: RE: Who is responsible? (was living doc article)
From: MList -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 8 Apr 2003 16:17:26 -0400


Alan Bucher [mailto:bucherino -at- yahoo -dot- com]
> >So, take the initiative and get the job
> >done. Quit asking for permission to do everything.
>
> An admirable but naive attitude. There are times when this is
> possible and beneficial, and there are times when this is harmful. I
> once "took the initiative" to interview the support team for more
> insight into customer issues. It allowed me to create better doc. But
> when the support manager found out, he told my manager that his team
> was under the gun and shouldn't be disturbed, so my manager told me
> to back off. Not an overly hostile situation, but my manager didn't
> like that he appeared to be interfering with another team without
> first notifying the other manager, and that he didn't know what his
> own team was doing. So I was told to run such things by him in the
> future. Initiative appreciated, but occasionally a non-starter. And
> not asking for permission after that would be an openly defiant act.

Maybe the thing to do is to ask the Customer Support manager, in e-mail
(so there's a trail), in so many words:

"Sorry for treading on your toes. To allow me to get on with my task,
can you clarify for me:
Are better, more useful customer documents not one of the more direct
ways to reduce your group's over-work-load?"

If the answer is... "well, yes", then your next question is:
"In that case, is there a reason that I'm overlooking for keeping
your group's workload artificially high?"
(Maybe somebody needs/wants to demand a bigger budget and is willing
to risk employeed burnout to prove the need.)

If the answer was "no, we don't need better docs", then ask:
"Are you saying that the documents are as good as they could
possibly be, and that any problems the customers have are
due to the quality of our product? Or the quality of our customers?"

The reply to that one is limited to:
"It's the customers. They don't qualify their people well enough."
(In that case, maybe your company should adjust their Support contract
prices, since it's obviously more economical to pay us for endless
support calls than to pay for their own employee upgrading.)

"It's the product. The interface sucks, or the functionality is
broken/cryptic beyond even the best documented work-arounds, and
we have to keep fixing things so that customers can get on with
their work". or "The product is bad, but for political reasons
we can't document (admit) the problems and the work-arounds."
(If that's a constant condition, you'd best touch up the ole resumé.)

"Other."
(In that case, you have to demand more info, 'cuz you can't very well
address a situation that isn't acknowledged.)

"P*ss off! I told you not to bug us!"
(Uh... hmm. Resumé again?)

Presumably, you'd be CC:ing your own boss on all such correspondence,
or -- if direct contact, even with the manger of Support is forbidden --
asking your boss IN E-MAIL (so you have a record of your efforts for
the next performance-review cycle) to find out those same things from
the other manager.

Nasty, insular behavior on the part of various employee groups doesn't
happen in a vacuum. You need to know why everyone is so touchy and
protective of their "turf". Maybe some people are expecting an axe
to swing soon... in which case... where DID you put that resumé?

/kevin

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