Training SMEs (was Grammar vs Content)

Subject: Training SMEs (was Grammar vs Content)
From: Sherri Hall <shall -at- HILCO -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 27 Jan 1995 12:37:35 CST

> Vince Putman writes:
> >
> > But, since the switch its seems that many of my new
> > peers have different writing priorities. They place grammar ahead of
> > content. <stuff cut>
> > To me, this is akin to polishing the fire truck while the building
> > burns down!!!

> To which Glen Accardo replies:

<stuff cut>
> And I experience the same problem as Vince: when I ask someone to review
> what I've written, making sure that it is correct and complete, they point
> out comma problems and other useless drivel.

Seems like the voiced above problem isn't really between grammar vs.
content (which I don't think it should be one or the other but I'm staying
out of that discussion 'cuz it's Friday and I'm tired). Rather, the problem
may be getting your technical SMEs to provide technical reviews (rather
than editorial ones). We tackled that problem about 3 years ago by
throwing a lunch-time pizza party and inviting all our SMEs. (Our budget
covered it as a training expense.) We trained them on our expectations and
had some fun exercises to help understanding. We then solicited their
expectations of us.

They left with a full stomach and a "cheat sheet" to use the next time
they had to review something. (Basically a list of questions to answer
for each document like "Is the content correct? Is it complete? What
does the user need to know that's missing?")

We left with an list of "to dos" to meet their expectations (stuff like
give them advance notice that a 200 page manual is coming their way;
mark the changed areas, on drafts they've seen more than once, so they can
focus on the changes).

Well, it worked tremendously. There were many SMEs that developed the ability
to be good reviewers once they were trained on our expectations and once
they saw us working hard to meet their expectations.

One final note, praise breeds repeat behavior. So does attaching
a stick of gum or tootsie roll to the review copies . . . .
Sherri Hall * May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always
shall -at- hilco -dot- com * at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face ....

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