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I expected a response like this (se below). I wanted to post my response
this since it echoes two other issues that drive me nuts - multiple visions
and the tyranny of skill sets.
It is true that most contract agencies do not include the writer in the spec
phase. I have tried to include writers in the spec phase, but it usually
turned into a circus. The best spec'ed projects are done by a senior
consultant who then guides and directs the project for other consultants.
Including all the participants in the specification phase winds up drawing
out the entire process. The writers take 600 hours to debate whether to use
Arial or Times New Roman.
Good projects have a singular vision that is driven to completion. People
might not like to face this reality, but group consensus project management
is a sure-fire way to kill a complex documentation project. Two and three
writers never, ever agree on how to do things. Thus, you need a manager to
be the tie breaker. I have seen countless projects go down the toilet
because the writers spent all their time bickering and whining over tools
and fonts. Without one person driving the project forward, these "multiple
vision" projects become mired in their own filth.
Lastly, the whole "skill set" mentality really torques my driveshaft. There
is this notion that people have this static set of skills. A job outside
that set of skills will crush them. I think that is a huge load of poop.
It is a tidy way for people who don't want to learn new things to say "I
know this much and I can't learn anything more."
Hell, I have done jobs where I didn't know squat about the tools,
technologies, or company. It was a royal pain. But I slogged through it.
It was very challenging. In the end, my so-called skill set got a lot
bigger. The fact is ANYONE with a bright mind and the motivation to succeed
can complete complex documentation projects. This is tech writing not brain
surgery! I think the tyranny of skill sets is dangerous. It leads people
into restrictive scenarios where they wind up saying "I can't do this."
Bullpucky - ANYONE can do this stuff. You just have to WANT to do it.
From: Sue Pyle <comline -at- greennet -dot- net>
To: Andrew Plato <aplato -at- easystreet -dot- com>
Cc: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU <TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU>
Date: Monday, September 21, 1998 4:07 AM
Subject: Re: Lying applicants
>What the hell is wrong with consulting firms these days? They never seem to
>get the story right about the client's specific needs and environment. And
>then they accuse us writers of lying! Your entire post sounded patronizing,
>chauvinistic, and totally unprofessional. We're not animals that you can
>just yank on and off jobs, accuse of "chatting".
>Where you might think a professional writer is lying, you may discover she
>or he is responding to your question (whatever it was) and answered to the
>best of her/his ability. What's the point in lying anyway? The client and
>you, the consulting firm, will find out about what is or isn't true soon
>enough. My guess is she didn't totally understand the job before she even
>This happens a lot lately. Consulting firms get the specs wrong. They're so
>anxious to sell a job and get the commission, that they pull in people who
>don't even know what to expect, and they get clients to agree to things
>probably shouldn't. Then here we are looking for work, and these consulting
>firms paint a story from heaven. We get on the job, and find out there's a
>world more this job recruiter didn't tell us. Usually, it's not because
>are withholding information; typically, it's because they don't understand
>the work either.
>I submit that these consulting firms bring a contractor along for the sales
>pitch meeting. Together, the recruiter (sales rep) and the writer can find
>out in needs analysis fashion, just what the client needs. Then at the
>outset, the writer should advise the recruiter if the scope of the project
>is above and beyond the skill set.