Value of Techwriters

Subject: Value of Techwriters
From: Barry West <Barry_West -dot- S2K -at- S2KEXT -dot- S2K -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 31 May 1995 11:56:55 EDT

>The point is that logic rarely, if ever persuades anyone, and never
>persuades one who is already biased. <snip>

I absolutely agree. I recall one situation in which I clearly demonstrated that
a Technical Writer has value added, and it still didn't change the minds of
some people. If fact, it made things worse. I was asked to write a manual for a
medical software application. After I completed about a third of the manual,
the project leader asked how large I thought the manual would be. I told him
about 600 pages. He thought that was ridiculous and told me to keep it to about
150 pages. When I told him I couldn't provide a quality explanation of the
product in 150 pages, he decided to take me off the project and do it himself.
"It wasn't that I was a bad writer," he told me. "I just didn't understand
people in the medical field or this application."

He stripped out most of what I had written, completed the rest of the manual,
and sent it to some field people and beta sites for review. The response was a
unanimous, finger-down-your-throat gag. The Marketing Director then ask me to
come back to complete the project, which I did (hey, my kids have to eat too).
The manual, just under 600 pages, was met with very favorable reviews. This
certainly doesn't make me a hero. It simply demonstrates that the skills of a
trained Technical Writer have value added. Interestingly enough, however, the
project manager could not see me as the value-added Tech Writer who ultimately
provided a good product. He continued to find fault with me, and he continued
to insist that his was the better version.

The whole point of this long-winded explanation is that Herman is correct.
There is a very good chance that you are not dealing with logic or reason in
your situation. You can bring in mountains of evidence and testimonials, and it
may not make any difference. You have to first understand the mindsets of the
people who are resistant to hiring Tech Writers. Once you know the mindset (and
the resulting agenda), you can work with those mindsets without crashing into

Barry_West -dot- S2K -at- s2kext -dot- s2k -dot- com

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