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> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kat Kuvinka
> By all means, get the writer to dial in so she can get info first-hand
> and ask questions. If the sprint planning and execution goes well, I
> think you will both see that it is possible to
> develop documentation for the work being done in that 3 weeks. It does
> not have to look like a complete manual. During a sprint I used to
> create "snippets" to cover the feature, and add a few lines to document
> what I though would come before and after this info in a user guide.
> This will be challenging and luckily as you said the writer is up for
> it. She will hopefully come up with solutions of her own to the unique
> situation--this is part of the "fun" of agile. It is unfortunate that
> only half of her time will be devoted to this, so intially you might
> want to see if the doc can lag behind development for one sprint. That
> seems to work well for some teams.
Challenging. Nice word. Here's a challenge you might not have been thinking of.
We have a tester - very meticulous, very smart, very valuable man - whose speaking voice can barely be heard across a conference room table. If somebody leans back and squeaks a chair, or emits a bodily noise, half the attendees lose their tenuous grasp of what the man was saying.
We have another man, a developer - again, meticulous, brilliant, valuable - who also has a soft speaking voice, but one that has no hard edges. At all. If I said his voice was "round, soft, and muffled at any volume", would you get what I mean? I bet if I put an audio spectrometer on him, he'd have big gaps in the higher frequencies, and incredibly shallow attack times for any consonant he utters. He can speak considerably louder than the first fellow, when he wants to, but without becoming more understandable, especially to an old fart like me who is already missing the upper register of hearing and doing more lip-reading around conference tables than I'd ever thought possible.
Anyway, we seat these guys at either end of a meeting table, with the satellite microphones of the conference phone right under their noses, and still the calling-in attendees are constantly asking for repeats. Both guys respond by hunching forward over the mic with an exasperated little rise in both volume and intonation that lasts about four words into their first sentence, then drops back to 'normal'.
Oh, and both are first-generation immigrants, so one talks very, very quietly with a Chinese accent, while the other talks very, very softly with a Persian accent.
Your distant writer would have apoplexy.
I think my blood pressure rises about 30 points at every meeting. From the strain, you see. I'm not sure what I strain, when I strain to hear, but it's exhausting. (Kevin? Are ... are your eyes bleeding? Your ears, too, I think? ) :-)
Things improve when the occasion is a sprint demo using Go-To-Meeting (or similar) with lots of circles and arrows and moving pointers to give some context to the flow of sub-audibles.
But most scrums don't have a demo component. They are just chats, and they are meant to hustle along so they can be over quickly.
All that to say that about the only advice I could offer in this context would be roughly as valuable as the admonition to "pick your parents carefully". Meaning, you don't usually get a choice as to who is involved in an agile team. You just deal with what you find. In my case, I do a LOT of written communication with these guys between meetings - IM chats, e-mails, etc. No accent in Office Communicator, and I can enlarge the font if I want them to shout... :->
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