User feedback? (was 5 users in a room), Take III

Subject: User feedback? (was 5 users in a room), Take III
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Jonathan West <jwest -at- mvps -dot- org>, CGiordano -at- EvergreenInvestments -dot- com
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2006 11:39:49 -0500

Jonathan West noted: <<That reminds me of a great story I heard some years ago while working at a telecomms company in the UK. Somebody at the company's factory in South Wales had to prepare a monthly report of some kind for HQ in London. He never got any kind of response, and so one month, apart from the covers, he wrote the entire report in Welsh. Still no response, at which point he very sensibly decided that he didn't need to produce the report any more :-)>>

Indeed, I've done something very similar at a former employer who asked for monthly status reports that I was confident were never being read... so this isn't just an urban legend. In my case, I inserted a few "please check on this and tell me the status" messages, and when I never got any replies, I simply stopped submitting the reports. Predictably, nobody ever noticed. <g>

One important caution, though: If you try this, you want to be really sure that you can generate the desired report in 5-10 minutes. That way, if someone suddenly decides the report really is crucial and asks where it is, you can provide it with minimal delay. I was always careful to keep my records up to date so that when a program manager called with a question, I could answer them immediately.

That satisfied their needs quite well: they didn't actually need the monthly report, but did need to know the status of their projects. As in so many of the things we do as technical communicators, understanding the needs of the audience tells us what we need to do-- which is often not what we were asked to do!

Connie Giordano noted: <<I scheduled meetings with every manager possible, discussed their priorities for the following year and set expectations for what we could provide given limited resources. It not only went a long way towards relationship building, but also started planted seeds for such things as standards, need for inclusion in planning and schedules, and long-term goals.>>

Excellent points. A key phrase in Connie's response is "their priorities". Make an effort to help someone else meet their deadlines and achieve their own priorities and you become an ally and an asset and someone they want to work with; in contrast, you become a liability and obstacle and someone to avoid if all you do is dump yet another responsibility on their desks, leaving them no clear idea of why your priority is important to them.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --

Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca

(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


WebWorks ePublisher Pro for Word features support for every major Help format plus PDF, HTML and more. Flexible, precise, and efficient content delivery. Try it today!

Easily create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to any popular Help file format or printed documentation. Learn more at

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- infoinfocus -dot- com -dot-
To unsubscribe send a blank email to techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

RE: User feedback? (was 5 users in a room), Take II: From: Jonathan West

Previous by Author: User feedback? (was 5 users in a room), Take II
Next by Author: Hourly Wages for Tech Writing?
Previous by Thread: RE: User feedback? (was 5 users in a room), Take II
Next by Thread: RE: User feedback? (was 5 users in a room) - [TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 13, Issue 14]

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads