TWs and Core Competencies (long)

Subject: TWs and Core Competencies (long)
From: "jobs @ ProSpring" <jobs -at- prospring -dot- net>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 23 Dec 2007 16:28:24 -0600

>> A similar situation exists with BA; TWs seem to be claiming BA skills to
augment whatever other skills they list. That is ludicrous. A BA is
primarily a position interfacing with upper management, secondarily with IT
chiefs, and almost never with the lowly developers and documentation
producers. The skill sets are totally different, yet many TWs seem to
include BA in their skill list as a matter of course.

Sorry, I had to change the Subject as the original email just had "RE:
TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 26, Issue 21" as the subject.

<soap box>

I have to disagree with person who said it is ludicrous to be able to do
both technical writing and business analysis. I have done both. I know
many other professional who have done both. It is not a big leap from one
to the other.

This, by the way, is THE issue I'm addressing in the recent post I made
surveying alternate career paths for technical writers. It all comes down
to core competencies that can be leveraged to do other tasks:

At the top of my list is what Bonni Graham calls "critical thinking skills."
Can you evaluate what is important, what is not? Do you know what questions
to ask to get information out of your audience, especially when he/she/they
they may not realize what they "know" and what they don't?

Next is interpersonal communication skills. As in TALKING to people and
LISTENING to their answers. This is true no matter if you are interviewing
a C-level executive, a "lowely programmer", or an end user.

Third (and the order of these in important IMHO) is "writes well," as even a
BA needs to document the results of his/her analysis.

There are more core competencies, but I believe these three are exactly the
same for technical writing as for business analysis. The AUDIENCE may be
different, but that simply a matter of persona and target audience

Skipping the offensive "lowly" comment for now, the statement "A BA is
primarily a position interfacing with upper management, secondarily with IT
chiefs, and almost never with the lowly developers and documentation
producers" is (at a minimum) just not applicable to the issue at hand, or
(at a maximum) is just plain WRONG.

Tech writers as a whole HAVE the core competencies needed to excel in
business analysis, usability testing, instructional design, and more.

Are SOME tech writers too "introverted" to do well making presentations to
C-level executives? Of course. Would some additional TRAINING or MENTORING
be needed for a TW to excel at business analysis? Also "of course" -- no
one walks into a new field at the top of his or her game!

But "writes well" is NOT the sole defining skill of a technical writer and
should NOT be used as the sole criterion for defining what you can or cannot
do in corporate life.

Want to do something other than just "tech writing"?

Go for it!

And remember to put it on you resume when you do.... :-)

</soap box>

Jack Molisani
Executive Director
ProSpring Technical Staffing
866-302-5774 x201


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