Re: Into the Frying Pan

Subject: Re: Into the Frying Pan
From: Keith Hood <bus -dot- write -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 1 Oct 2015 21:54:21 -0500

Is this an entry in a "Most unwinnable situation at work" contest? Jeez.....

Your instinct is correct. Run. Run far. Run fast.

On Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 7:22 AM, Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

> Hi All,
>
> *BACKGROUND:* I'm but one publications specialist on a very large scale,
> corporate-run program in contract with New York. Although the corporation
> is known worldwide as an entity intimately involved with business
> documents, it has no official style guide. Well, marketing kinda sort has
> one... but then we've come across several variants on our own. And they
> even formally published one in 1988 that was offered for sale; it smacks of
> very early DTPitis (I was part of the DTP vanguard at the time).
>
> Our four-person publications department has a lot resting on its shoulders,
> and is (not) being managed by a person who has never run a pubs department
> before. Like half of our small dept., she's been on this job less than one
> full month and is learning as we go along. (Yet there is no time for that,
> as the horse is already out of the barn.)
>
> (BTW, corporate has equipped each of us with a single, tiny monitor, so
> attempting to speed edit with two docs up side-by-side is a real challenge,
> never mind the fact that we're all stuffed into study carrels (not even a
> normal cubicle). Some are on Office 2013, others 2010, so there's no
> telling why the disparity in system images and licensing.)
>
> As with any state gig, I suppose, many things are in a quandary (I
> previously saw it while on a Deloitte project withe the CA Dept. of
> Workers' Comp.). Apparently several deliverables were already supposed to
> have been created and approved, including an overall outreach plan that
> includes many items pubs is charged with creating.
>
> Last week the pubs manager was still taking a leisurely approach to that
> doc, thinking that we only needed to have it roughed out, that the state
> would help us finalize dates and whatnot. It was up to us to first
> discover, then appropriate and thoroughly rewrite, a similar plan created
> in California for a sister program in that state (it was written by a bunch
> of youngsters who still write as if to impress their university
> professor.).
>
> No SME was involved, so much of the translation of that doc was by guess
> and by golly.
>
> Surprise! As of Tuesday afternoon, the state was up in arms that the plan
> had not already been finalized, submitted and approved.
>
> From the roll of her eyes, sighing, and other body language clues, the pubs
> manager knows she's in over her depth but continues with the struggle.
>
> *PROBLEM*: The version of the 15-pp doc I had created, minus dates, was
> carefully formatted in Word with section breaks, numbered headers and a TOC
> (plus a lot of other pro touches). Unbeknownst to me, it was sent around to
> other departments for markup. There was little agreement among the players
> there, and several did not use Track Changes to mark it up.
>
> Yesterday morning I was urgently (everything's become URGENT!) instructed
> to sit in on a Webex call with two SMEs, who wanted to do yet another line
> edit. I was supposed to help guide them, collect inputs, and then magically
> assimilate all changes into a perfectly formatted, state-"presentation
> ready" doc by 2:30. The SME conference lasted until noon, and I'm required
> to "punch out" for an hour lunch (I cut my lunch break way short anyway).
>
> But I soldiered on, being less than pleased with the resultâalthough I gave
> it the yeoman's effort.
>
> BUT... I found out later in the afternoon that, once I was done, pubs mgr
> had given it to another in our department to reformat it from Arial 11 pt.
> (the true corporate std.) to Arial 10 pt.(what the pubs mgr. found in a
> some PPT, origin unknown). That would have thrown off all of my careful
> page breaks and other typesetting finesses. I didn't see the final product
> before it went back to the state for their OK.
>
> *SOLUTION*: Other than getting the heck out of there ASAP, what process
> could we have employed in the intra-departmental doc review so as to
> maintain the integrity of the Word doc each step of the way?
>
> (I've considered distributing a PDF and letting others comment on it, but
> we don't so much as have access to Acrobat Pro. Corporate endorses CutePDF,
> but I've never worked with it. Would the standard Acrobat Reader suffice?
>
> What other methodologies have worked for you in such a situation?
>
> Thanks much,
>
> > Chris
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References:
Into the Frying Pan: From: Chris Morton

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