Re: Level 1, Level 2, Level 9 billion

Subject: Re: Level 1, Level 2, Level 9 billion
From: "Tim Altom" <taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com>
To: "TechDoc List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 07:34:15 -0500

Andrew wrote:
>Worse - you could spend a zillion hours perfecting the XYZ method only to
>downsized and trying to sell your expertise in a system very few use. A
>recruiter at my company interviewed a guy the other day for a ColdFusion
>position. This applicant raved about how he knew some methodology. The
>recruiter nodded and carried on the interview as normal. The guy was
>that his expertise was the sole reason he was qualified and worth more
>Of course, whenever the recruiter asked about his ColdFusion skills, he
>redirected the question to talking about his amazing ability to implement
>methodology at his last employer.

Something that Andrew didn't say is that a good many companies are getting
more sophisticated in their needs. Or they're amenable to education about
the benefits of methodology. Many companies that used to advocate the
"pound-out" methodology now want more assurance of quality, usability,
maintainability, and other reliability issues.

We at Simply Written are finding that while there are still many companies
that, like Andrew, spurn methodologies, they generally spurn them
company-wide. They're usually level 1 or 2. We generally don't bother with
them as clients, because we're not a good fit. They do everything ad-hoc, in
a pound-out mode. They need a writer who will fit into their value system.
We don't even do many sales visits to startups. We've found that it's not
worth it for either of us. We do well in companies that are late level 2
through 5, where the companies value methodologies. There, the pound-out
writer is at a disadvantage up against the predictability and security of a
Clustar Method.

As companies grow, they inevitably must adopt processes. Otherwise they
don't have a larger company; they have a bag of confusion. Such a company is
well on its way to dissolution. But people accustomed to chaotic structures
don't like processes. Rather than say "I'd rather live in hip-shoot mode,
thank you very much" they often deride the processes themselves. This has
given rise, I think, to much of the invective I've read over the years on
this list. Posters like Andrew are disdainful of processes, and belittle
their very existence as Hitlerian. People like me believe that processes are
desirable, although they must be pliable to adapt quickly to new situations.
To each his own, say I.

I can work in an ad-hoc level 1 environment, but I must be allowed to create
my own processes. Without the processes, I'm flying blind. Processes are
beacons, flight paths that are tested and reasonably reliable. If you're the
pilot of a Cessna, you might get by flying alone on visual. If you're on the
crew of an airliner, you jolly well want processes, flight plans,
instrumentation, and all that other restrictive nonsense that keeps everyone
acting in sync. If Andrew wants the Cessna, he's more than welcome to it.
Somebody has to fly that way. For myself, I prefer the team/process approach
of the airliner. And so do our clients. I can often give clients pretty firm
project prices, and we almost always hit deadline and budget, even over many

That's only possible with strong structure and process. We invented Clustar
to give us that predictability, because without it we wouldn't make money,
and our clients would wind up being behind schedule or sucked dry of cash.
They love seeing the various gantt-chart thermometers climbing serenely and
predictably upward, in tune with our projections. They love having little
celebrations when we hit milestones. After a client has experienced our
process methodology, they're unlikely to go back to the pound-out approach.

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar Method(TM)
"Better communication is a service to mankind."

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