Can Engineers Write?

Subject: Can Engineers Write?
From: Daniel Wise <dewise -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 5 Oct 1996 23:51:57 -0700


On 5 October Robert Plamondon commented on the writing skills of engineers.
I think he's somewhat off the mark--at least from my own experience. Most
of the engineers I have had the pleasure (with or without quotation marks)
of supporting as writer and editor did not write well because their managers
did not write well. Does that make sense?

It most certainly does. In the corporate environment we write to the lowest
level of expectations because that requires the least effort and usually
results in the maximum reward per unit of time spent. When you work for a
manager who cannot tell good from bad, you are confident s/he will accept
anything you submit. So you step to the files and cop a peek at what the
boss has bought in the past. Then you faithfully parrot that example in the
document you are preparing. Sure enough, the boss loves it. Bad habits are
reinforced and the minimum level of expectations is defined.

In my experience, when the manager knew what good writing was, the product
input to me for editing was far superior to that received from engineers who
worked for the unknowing and/or uncaring manager.

It's inertia at work. You remember, the body at rest tends to remain at
rest until distrubed by an outside force.

Dan Wise
dewise -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com

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