Formatting chaos

Subject: Formatting chaos
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Tue, 7 Jan 1997 12:28:27 -0600

Dan Azlin presented a situation that, from the corporate
perspective, seems like an impending catastrophe of
near-Biblical proportions. Yet from your perspective, Dan,
it sounds more like pure gold... yet again, you get to ride
in over the sage, defeat the bad guys, and rescue the town
from its own worst instincts.

In your situation, I'd spend the next few weeks defining
(in detail) what problems exist with the current magnum
opus, and what you would do to fix them; your message
indicates that you've already made a good start on this.
When the book crashes and burns, you'll be ready and
waiting with a set of solutions. With a little planning,
the result will be a considerable amount of straightforward
mechanical labor (e.g., imposing consistency, inserting
figure references, breaking the manual into one module per
product, etc.).

The politics of this situation are a bit delicate, though.
While it might afford you some emotional satisfaction to
watch the other writer crash and burn, you'll end up with
better kharma if you can figure out some way to step in and
save him through your planning (i.e., share the credit). If
you can get him on your side, so that he sees you as his
ally in rescuing the situation, you've got a friend for
life... if you want one. If you use your plan to crush him,
you've earned yourself an enemy you really don't need,
quite apart from the questionable ethics of crushing
another person just for the satisfaction it brings.

If you can't finesse the office politics and still save the
project, you're in a stickier situation. One possibility
might be to present the solution to a manager you respect,
on the condition that your involvement never reaches the
ears of the other writer. You provide the manager with a
solution that will earn him brownie points with his own
manager, while enhancing your reputation with someone who
can help you later on. This might even end up being a good
time to bring in another temp to do the work (ideally under
your well-paid supervision!) while you handle the other
important work they hired you to do in the first place.
Gotta give those college grads some way to earn some
experience, right? <grin>

In any event, good luck... a sticky situation to be in, and
glad I'm safely on the outside advising inwards.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

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