RE: YOU are responsible, even when YOU are not to blame

Subject: RE: YOU are responsible, even when YOU are not to blame
From: Lyn Worthen <Lyn -dot- Worthen -at- caselle -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 09:17:14 -0600

Well said, Paul.

I've worked in both full time and freelance capacities with big and small
companies (and believe me, size is -no- indicator of the willingness to
share information or the lack thereof!), and find that taking ownership of
the material I produce and doing the best job I can with it is the single
consistent factor - and the only one I have control over.


-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Strasser
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2003 9:01 AM

Looks like there is a bit of life left in this thread...

A few days ago, the following was posted:
> > but nobody has really come up with a reasoned, logical
> > argument of how a document error was not the responsibility of the
> > author.

Jan Henning responded:

> Rubbish. It has been repeatedly pointed out that, e.g., if a product
> changes after the documentation has to be finished, the inaccuracy is
> not the responsibility of the writer. (Unless of course he or she was
> also hired as a clairvoyant.)

May I take a whack at a counter-argument? The above scenario, in which
product updates occur after the documentation was completed, has been used
in this thread as an example of errors or omissions that are beyond the
control - and hence, responsibility - of the writer.

I don't agree, and here's why.


The reason I'm at these meetings, or any other project meeting that I want
to attend (shades of John Posada) is that I have made the assumption that
I'm responsible for the documentation. Yes, it helps that the senior dudes
in the company assume that too. But I'm responsible for content.


But when you accept responsibility you are doing far more than casting blame
upon yourself. You're marking your territory, taking ownership. And with
ownership comes the desire to make it better, because those words and images
and diagrams are yours. With this mindset, the discovery of errors due to
poor project scheduling or lousy communication Ticks You Off. So you put on
your best corporate face and find out what went wrong with your docs and fix
the process so it won't happen again.


One caveat to this - As I mentioned above, I work for a small but terrific
company, where communication between the various employees isn't just OK -
it's encouraged. If you (again, the plural, non-threatening "you") work for
a less open company, where suspicion is rampant and blame-naming is a daily
ritual, the above might not work. And yes, I know that such companies
exist. And I know that in some companies the TW is beloved but not exactly
someone important enough to be invited to meetings. But if your corporate
culture accepts communication and doesn't play the blame game, try accepting
responsibility. It might work.

Paul Strasser
Windsor Technologies, Inc.
2569 Park Lane, Suite 200
Lafayette, Colorado 80026
Phone: 303-926-1982
FAX: 303-926-1510
E-mail: paul -dot- strasser -at- windsor-tech -dot- com

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