Re: Concurrent writing and revision

Subject: Re: Concurrent writing and revision
From: "Hutchings, Christa" <cwhutchings -at- HOMEWIRELESS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 1998 11:12:51 -0400

Robert -
These are all good points, and I have used many of them in the past.
However, at some companies, it doesn't matter how hard Tech Pubs wants
to stand its ground - when the top dog in your division issues an edict
that Tech Pubs *will* give a certain project top priority, it's hard to
argue without jeopardizing your job. Sometimes these edicts come down
from on high and there's not much you can do other than say "Yes, Sir!"
(cheerfully, of course!). ;~D

Chris Welch-Hutchings
Senior Technical Writer
Home Wireless Networks, Inc.
mailto:cwhutchings -at- homewireless -dot- com

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Plamondon [mailto:robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM]
Sent: Friday, July 31, 1998 10:57 AM
Subject: Concurrent writing and revision

Christina Hutchings writes:

>And, again unfortunately, this is the way it seems to work at most
>companies. No matter how hard Tech Pubs puts its foot down about
>revisions, schedules, etc., it seems that the squeaky wheel gets the
>oil. There is always someone with more clout than the last guy who
>demands that his/her project be given higher priority or special
>handling, and if Tech Pubs tries to enforce its rules, it is accused of
>"not being a team player."

Oh, you can beat the system. It's so easy, it's almost criminal.
your schedule, update it often, and have a comment field that puts all
dirty laundry right out in public: "On hold: {list of SME's} not
to queries," "Slipped one week: we screwed up," "Slipped two weeks:
excessive revisions," "On hold: Priority lowered by {Big Boss} to make
for {Pet Project}."

The important things are:

1. Act as if you really believe in your ability to schedule projects,
that the only issue on the floor is where to fit a given project on the
Gantt chart.

2. Be merciless in assigning reasons for slippage, but be merciless to
yourself as well, and be lavish in your praise when things come together
way they should. This will be seen as fair.

3. People really hate to have their misbehavior pointed out in public,
they will usually put up with it with reasonably good grace if the
rules were defined in advance and you gave them fair (that is,
warning. Always warn people of impending slippage.

4. Be cheerful about all this (and everything, really). You have a
department that can only work so fast. Trying to push things reduces
overall pace of work, causes quality to plummet, and hurts morale. The
groups who think otherwise are fooling themselves. They'd know this if
analyzed the data, which is why they never analyze the data. Point this
to anyone who'll stand still, but be cheerful and upbeat. The whole
is to shove the consequences of stupid decisions back on the people who
them. If a manager wants to accelerate one project even though it will
crater quality and cost him double (two weeks' advance in this project,
four weeks' slip in others), then maybe he really NEEDS it. Confine the
damage to the decision-maker's own projects, and you will be seen as
and will be appreciated for it. Though few people will bother to tell

5. The scheduling game is fairly seductive in its own right. Start
to-do lists and Gantt charts around when people come to ask for changes.
Get them involved in the trade-offs for at least a couple of minutes.
they break into a sweat and run away, you can be sure they'll step more
lightly next time.

6. Same as #1. If you fall into the trap of admitting that you can't
schedule your way out of a paper bag, and one person's schedule is much
same as another's, then you've given authority over your department to
anyone who wants to walk in and take it. To some extent, a schedule is
always something you commit to first and figure out how to adhere to
but this needs to YOUR guesswork, not theirs.

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon * High-Tech Technical Writing
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett OR 97326
541-453-5841 * Fax: 541-453-4139
mailto:robert -at- plamondon -dot- com *


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