RE: gaining control of a dysfunctional environment?

Subject: RE: gaining control of a dysfunctional environment?
From: "Dan Goldstein" <DGoldstein -at- riverainmedical -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 08:45:12 -0400

Dear Tired,

First of all, you're *not* useless -- none of us is. But most of us are
tired (the ones with kids, anyway), and most of us have been where you
are, at least once.

As a tech writer, I never "impose structure and processes" on anyone.
First, I ask a lot of polite questions. Then, if I see a way to do
things better, I offer ideas -- either in writing or in graphics (such
as flow charts ), depending on the audience. A good tech writer sees a
potential for structure where others don't.

But me, I'm just an amateur. Check out Sensei Posada:

It can be done. But if it can't be done where you are, and you care,
then you need to find a company that deserves you.

-- Dan Goldstein

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Anonymous Poster
> Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2006 5:14 PM
> To: techwhirlers
> Subject: Fwd: gaining control of a dysfunctional environment?
> I'm hoping for some advice on how to address a systemic problem at
> work. I am the only tech writer in a small company, where the people
> are generally well intentioned (and less political than in previous
> work experiences). However, their work processes are nonexistent and
> they cause themselves innumerable problems on a regular basis. I
> realize I should probably seek new employment, but I'd like to give it
> my best effort before giving up.
> The company's s/w dev process---and each group's responsibilities in
> that process---are poorly understood/identified. The overall project
> management for our s/w products is generally terrible (in spite of our
> having separate BA and PM functions). Lastly, regarding
> documentation, you won't be surprised to hear it's tough for me to do
> my job, particularly with any amount of quality. The whole function
> is misunderstood here, and despite my efforts and the quality of my
> work (which many people have responded positively to), I've been
> unable to establish a basic documentation process.
> To explain the dynamics briefly, I report to the DEV manager.
> Although a good guy, his comments/actions reflect he thinks TW is
> simply a desktop publishing task---DEV will give me info and I am to
> make it presentable for clients. His personality is to manage based
> on how things (should) work, unless someone can convince him otherwise
> (but he can't understand 'analytical' personalities at all, which I
> am). When out of his element, he seems to rely on instinct. I often
> step up and pose the necessary questions, etc., but he keeps telling
> me 'it's not your job to manage documentation,' resolve issues, etc.
> But of course, no one is. My boss's personality utterly baffles me
> (the opposite of what I think of as scientific and logical). Although
> he's not unintelligent.
> ***My question is: people on techwr-l occasionally mention they use
> their role to impose structure and processes in their companies, so
> they can do their job. How exactly? What's the secret? What am I
> doing wrong?***
> (Sigh) . . . Feeling useless and tired

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