Re: Grammar Books

Subject: Re: Grammar Books
From: Gwen Thomas <gthomas -at- PAYSYS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 2 Jul 1999 13:51:38 -0500

All this passion about our work - isn't it great?

My fiancé chided me this morning for the tone of my last post. Upon re-reading it, I'd like to assure all that in "my passion" I certainly meant no offense, just a different viewpoint.

Three times in my professional life I've been the person writing some or all of the checks. Once, the side business was a literary magazine. You can bet my partners and I spent hours debating punctuation and precise word choice. We didn't care what the cost was - we economized in other areas. Both other side ventures also included "spare no expense" areas as well as "just good enough" areas. Just like any business.

Now, if I had hired someone to do a "just good enough" job for something, and the employee insisted that for artistic (or other personal) reasons the employee could not agree to do the job without spending a considerable extra number of hours and then charging me for them, then I would have had to say "No thanks, goodbye." I might have even had more respect for the person for not compromising personal standards. But it wouldn't have changed the fact that I couldn't afford the job they wanted to do.

(Did anyone ever figure out how much Murphy Brown ended up paying Eldon the painter to "throw a fresh coat of paint on the hallway"?)

Later, if I had discovered that my employee had been clearly instructed to do an "economy" job and had instead knowingly charged me for significant extra hours to bring the work to the employee's own personal standards, then I'd have felt cheated by the employee. I'd have had trouble trusting the employee.

Before anyone gets too upset with me, please let me re-state that I am NOT in favor of poor writing or shoddy workmanship of any kind.

And, I realize that it's usually easier to do something right the first time. My argument that one owes it to the employer to do a cost/benefit analysis for large projects involving changed editorial standards was really intended for situations when you've inherited great bunches of legacy stuff and are deciding how much attention to give it.

I'm only reminding folks that we're all in business. Anytime we can't maintain our pride while delivering what the check writer wants, then it's time to either educate the check writer or start a new business relationship with someone whose values are more in line with ours.

(How would you determine such a match at an interview?)

BTW, this is the last post my fiancé will be able to chide me over, since right before the fireworks go off on Sunday, he's evolving into my husband. See you when we get back from our honeymoon!

Gwen Thomas
Knowledge Management Consultant
CIBER Information Services, Inc.

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