Taking minutes, again

Subject: Taking minutes, again
From: betsyp -at- VNET -dot- NET
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 1997 12:26:19 -0400

At 03:17 PM 4/10/97 -0600, Susan Brown wrote:
>STOP NOW! taking minutes and notes for others.

> I have not done it. I have attended meetings that wll be of benefit
> to what I need to do, and I take notes for my own benefit, but I have very
> politely, but firmly, stated that if they want detailed transcripts of
> meetings that they should either bring in a stenographer, or tape it and
> hire someone to transcribe it.

I got one of the best jobs of my life through agreeing to take
minutes. I parlayed taking minutes for a software design team into a
seat on the design team; my next job after that; and some
extraordinarily useful parts of my portfolio. Nowadays, I'm
frequently asked to write design specs for my software team, and I'm
delighted to do it.

Nobody should agree to "just take minutes". But none of us agrees to
"just write", either; instead, we use our research skills, our
organization skills, and our writing skills to teach the customer how
to use our products. When I "take minutes", what I really do is
record major decisions and unresolved issues. This helps make sure
that everybody on the team (including me!) knows what the product is,
where the trouble areas lie, and who is responsible for fixing them.

If you don't like software development, it's a waste of your time
taking meeting minutes. If you care about software, keeping minutes
can make you a vital (and well-rewarded!) contributor to project
success: the minute-taker may be the only person on the project who
can clarify why critical decisions were reached, and what they were.
One of my team members once told me "Technical Writer doesn't do you
justice; you're really an Idea Clarifier." Precisely; but so are all
good technical writers.
Elizabeth Hanes Perry betsyp -at- vnet -dot- net

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