Re: gaining control of a dysfunctional environment?

Subject: Re: gaining control of a dysfunctional environment?
From: "Ken Munro" <kenmunro -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 13:24:39 -0300


I have worked as a lone writer in a dysfunctional software company, and have
had similar experiences. :-( If your manager is totally inflexible, you may
not be able to do much. Get that resume out there!

However, if I were try to make things better there, I might try to identify
the pain points in the development process. It might help to see the
documentation as part of the product, along with the software. He (or she)
may relate to that better. I would try to sell the manager on the benefits
of developing a more structured development process, and put on my process
architect hat.

I don't think you will sell him on the features of the process, but rather
the benefits, such as fewer defects, fewer support calls, greater effciency,
and so on. What are his buttons? Speak to them.

If you can, let him think it is his idea, and then offer to lead or
facilitate the process development project. You will be a natural fit to
draw the process diagrams and write the process narratives, and you would
probably make a good facilitator.

I have found that it is important to involve the whole team, and to get them
to come up with what the process should be. Research best practices so you
have them in your back pocket to help you guide the discussion if need be.
You can work your needs into it as well as the technical writer on the team,
and educate the team on documentation best practices at the same time.

If your manager isn't interested, then you could try going higher up like
someone else suggested. If that doesn't work, and you can't tolerate the
situation, get that resume out there. It will just be a matter of time
before you find something better.

If you do manage to affect change, it will be very rewarding, and will look
great on your resume.

Good luck.

Ken Munro

email: kenmunro -at- gmail -dot- com

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