Re: Organizational Structure an

Subject: Re: Organizational Structure an
From: "Travis D. Epes" <TravisE -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 1 Apr 1995 16:09:22 -0500

Re: Organizational Structure and Technical Writers

The original query of the thread stated/asked, in part:

>I am looking for opinions on where a technical writer or
>writing department best fits into an organization. Specifically, is
>it best for a technical writer to

> report to a documentation department and be assigned to the
> team(s) in which they will work?

> report directly to the team in which they will
> work?

For the past twenty years the WRITING GROUPS I have been associated with
have relied almost entirely on engineering input for our information. Writers
work in a central group, split into subgroups to handle specialized
documentation. Because we are forced to research so many areas of expertise
for each manual, we work out of a central group.

In part of his answer to this query, Mr. Plamondon made the following

> Engineering can provide direct help, but most engineers
>don't want to think about the end-users, so they don't understand
>why you're pulling down a paycheck at all.

He went on to answer the original query with reference to the "best" location
of a writing group. His paraphrased answer ruled out association with
engineering for the above-stated reason.

As I indicated, we get our information primarily by working with engineers.
The reason for their concern with our relaying correct information was - -
they are the designers of submarines and submarine systems. The designers of
the REALLY vital systems are honored with making the maiden voyages of the
ships they are designing. If the ships don't come back to the surface on
their first few dives because the engineers didn't ". . . want to think about
the end-users," the designers don't get to work on the next ship! They are
also aware that the submarine drivers obtain the "how-to . . . " information
from the manuals penned by the writers to whom they provide the information.
I suppose the value of the information obtained from am engineer is
proportional to the importance of the product to the end-user.

We have very little trouble with obtaining information from KNOWLEDGEABLE
engineers. It has been my experience that the "SME" who is reluctant to
provide information on his "area of expertise" is that way because the SME is
afraid that the listener will know more than the SME if any useful
information is provided! That is usually the primary reason for obfuscation!

The point is -- IMHO, if you can get the writers to work together with
COOPERATIVE engineers from the inception of an idea to the birth of an
IMPORTANT product, the manuals produced by the writers are much more valuable
to the end-users -- more accurate, too!

- - - IMHO -- Managers are masters of obfuscation! (;-> }} <---- That's a

Travis Epes
<TravisE -at- aol -dot- com>
Senior Editor/Tech Writer (Presently on the disabled roll)
Technical Communications & Logistics Support
Electric Boat Division/General Dynamics
- - - - wE Build thE Best!!! - - - -

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