Re: FWD: RE: Appealing to or introducing Tech Comm "best practices"

Subject: Re: FWD: RE: Appealing to or introducing Tech Comm "best practices"
From: Nora Merhar <nmerhar -at- charlesindustries -dot- com>
To: Anonymous Poster <anonfwd -at- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 12:04:55 -0500

OK, then this is what I think you should do...

If you already have a template (for documentation, online help, whatever), make up a list
of proposed changes to the template, give them to the other TW (and anyone else who you
think needs to have input) with samples, and schedule a meeting to discuss them. If you
DON'T already have a template, create a proposed template and proceed as above.

At the meeting, discuss the advantages of having a template in terms of saving time,
creating a more uniform look and feel, making documents/help more usable, etc. Be
prepared to back up your discussion with citations from the authors you favor (hopefully
creating an interest in the other people at your meeting to read the authors you cite).

You probably need to give this person a reason to check out your sources. If you start
moving in this way, you might get him/her to have a look at them, if only to refute your
arguments and argue for something he/she would prefer. If the person is really
uninterested, then you'll get your way anyway.

You can do the same thing with processes. If you write down the process currently used,
identify areas you think should change, and then call a meeting to discuss the changes,
you can start things moving.


Nora Merhar
Senior Technical Writer, Charles Industries, Ltd.
Rolling Meadows, IL
nmerhar -at- charlesindustries -dot- com

> But what if my colleague isn't interested in reading, either the sources I
> can supply or ones s/he finds? My experience suggests that, when this is
> the case, the discussion is basically over, and the person with the most power
> wins. (Nod to Andrew Plato.) I don't like power games, winning or losing
> them. What I *do* enjoy is a lively discussion of whatever standard, best
> practice, or guru advice seems relevant to the issue at hand. So, in
> response to Nora Merhar's comment and question, "When I was working with a
> team of writers, we worked to a template and discussed/voted on each
> change. It was a seriously irritating process, but at least everyone got to have
> input. Is that the kind of thing you want to do?" Yes!
> My original post was about how to encourage my colleague to get interested
> in reading whatever the going word about a given technical communication
> issue is, so we can discuss and decide. Of course, I believe that if my
> colleague becomes familiar with the available resources, she might change
> her mind and agree with me on some issues. But I wouldn't mind if she read
> them and still disagreed. Geoff Hart's advice on how to encourage learning
> in "students" addresses this concern directly, and it seems like good
> advice to me.
> Thanks again for all the responses. I've enjoyed reading them and have
> benefited from each, cited and uncited.

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