Re: Help! I'm seeking advice.

Subject: Re: Help! I'm seeking advice.
From: "Mike O." <obie1121 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 2004 07:33:27 -0500

Diane Boos wrote:
> At 5 pm, the Manager decided to have the other Consultant do another
> project. The Manager asked me "to drive the documentation." I worked on
> doc and presentation Saturday and Sunday. I was in contact with both the
> other Consultant and the Manager during this process. Late Sunday, the
> Manager indicated "we need to talk." We talked yesterday morning, and I
> told to "throw out everything [the other Consultant did] and began again."
> was asked to produce TOCs for 2 docs (business and tech plan) by the
> afternoon. I did, based upon the company's actual docs that I had access
> Now my problem: Its's twofold. (1) The deadline is Thursday. (2) That TOC
> not acceptable. It appears the Manager wants is someone that will produce
> those docs without access to the key players. I do have very limited
> to the Manager. He does know most of the relevant information because he's
> involved with the CEO/CIO, etc.

Now it's your turn to tell your client "we need to talk." Probe and find out
what he really wants; otherwise you are just playing a game of bring me a

Here are a few tactics I use:

1. Ask for an example of a previous successful business/technology document
that you can use as a model. If he has one, great. If he doesn't, then you
can say "I guess we really are breaking new ground here... Let's keep trying
and see what works."

2. Instead of trying to write TOCs (top-down), just start writing topics
with the info at hand, then try to write the TOC later. That way at least
you can show some progress.

In this business, you can only get info from three possible sources:

1. People
2. Product (i.e., software)
3. Documents

If none of these sources is available to you, then you really are at a full
stop.But don't use that as an excuse (not you personally - this is what I
tell myself). You really have to make sure you have exhausted every avenue
of figuring it out on your own. It really sucks when a client points out
some obvious way you could have had the job done by now.

Based on the facts in your post, your client is asking you to spin straw
into gold. If you are really sure there is no way out, you need to explain
it to them, and tell them what they need to do to assure success.

Mike O.

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