Approaches that are either too general or too specific can easily overwhelm practitioners—and derail budgets. Fresh from recent experiences with two large-scale redesigns, Katie Kovalcin suggests that flexibility and open communication can transform all team members into what she calls “80/20 practitioners,” creating a more effective balance of time and resources.
The central mistake new managers make is egoism. On the surface, the change is all about you: you’ve been promoted, you have a new job title, you have a new office. Perhaps you’ve been waiting for this change for some time, while watching peers or friends get promotions, and now finally you feel you’ve received the respect you’ve earned.
I have been a technical writer on Agile development teams, and working in tightly collaborative environments has taught me a lot about adding value in the customer’s perception. I still remember being challenged by Michael Cote when we were at BMC Software. He asked, “Why does it take three days to get a PDF out for review? Why aren’t technical writers using wikis for documentation?” Those questions prompted quite a bit of research that finally resulted in my book, Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation.
A good manager is someone who makes everyone feel like he or she is creative in their work. Because creative work is the most fulfilling work, and we are each capable of that kind of work.
I’m permanently interruptable because that’s my job. It took me quite a while to realise this, and getting yourself into a position to be interruptable isn’t all that easy. You need a good team around you (which I have) and you need to trust them and delegate to them as much as you can (I trust them, and I’m working on that delegation thing!).
I know some people see asking questions as a sign of weakness or insecurity (and believe others will view them that way), and that asking questions can produce answers we don’t want to hear. Both of those possible results pale in comparison to the potential good that just sitting down and asking questions can produce.
With more and more companies adopting the Darwin Information Typing Architecture, Baril discusses how to choose a compatible content management system that also supports your company's processes.
A two-person bilingual writing team enabled a software application development group to produce on-line documentation and a user guide simultaneously in two languages. Team writing in an international environment requires detailed planning, constant monitoring, and continuous communication in order to succeed.
I will be blogging about team creativity over the next few weeks, to share ideas and best practices for helping your team achieve their creative peak. Maybe you will find an idea that you can use to help your team work differently. But first, let’s look at the symptoms and causes of team complacency.
Chris Nagele’s run Wildbit, creators of hosted Subversion app Beanstalk, for 8 years virtually. He lives in Philadelphia and his team is all over the world. So, he knows a few things about virtual teams and shares them in this article.
As the number of designers interested in owning a seat at the corporate decision-making “table” grows, the number of business strategies advocating design solutions expands as well. Designers keep asking: “how can we convince business owners that investments in design processes are money well spent?” Simultaneously, a number of business publications (most notably Fast Company) are telling corporate decision makers that “design matters.” It’s useful for both sides to view the discussion from each other’s perspective.
Interuniversity partnerships are widely encouraged as a way for public universities to pool increasingly scarce resources, to minimize duplication of academic programs, and to cooperate rather than compete. Joint programs in technical communication have not been widely studied, but they seem especially logical for several reasons.
The article alerts technical communicators to wiki technology, an emerging new medium that allows dispersed groups to create shared content via collaborative editing and different-time communication. Wiki-based collaborative content creation enables new communication practices and thereby challenges several assumptions of existing media choice theories.
The non-writer who takes over the documentation can act like a bull in a China closet, copying and pasting from Word, mixing styles, not understanding the setup, basically wrecking the consistency, the bullet levels, the formatting. If you see the documentation later and find that the client has added steps without numbers, included text that breaks every rule in the style guide, won’t that be unnerving? Yes, it will make you want to jump out the window.
Talking to a CEO about usability can be wonderful or terrifying. The difference between raging success and total failure comes down to understanding exactly what the CEO needs to know and then adjusting your usability message to fit. This article explains how to understand various contexts, and in turn, how to position your usability message.
Measuring culture is a central issue in international management research and has been traditionally accomplished using indices of cultural values. Although a number of researchers have attempted to identify measures to account for the core elements of culture, there is no consensus on those measures. This article uses an alternative method—discourse analysis—to observe what actually occurs in terms of communication practices in intercultural decision-making meetings, specifically those involving U.S.-born native English speakers and participants from East Asian countries. Previous discourse studies in this area suggest that differences in communication practices may be attributed to power differentials or language competence. Our findings suggest that the conversation style differences we observed might be attributed to intergroup identity issues instead.
From early 1993 through July of 1994, three STC chapters jointly managed a research project on Technical Communication in Western Canada. Based in Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver, the managers were thousands of miles apart, relative strangers and simultaneously engaged in running their own businesses. In this volunteer assignment, they involved committees within their own chapters. As team building and collaborative arrangements become more prevalent in technical communications projects, it can be instructive to look at how such a farflung research project fared. We will relate this experience briefly to some research results reported in Technical Communication.
This document describes ways to implement structure in group projects for effective collaborative learning. Aspects of group membership, individual and group accountability, and grading group work are discussed.
I’ve been working on some collaborative authoring scenarios for our Agile teams – we’re going from 5 people to 47 people in total who could author external or internal documentation within our two week sprints. Turns out, we likely represent some trends in the enterprise.
Say you have a document that needs to be presented in two languages and you are the translator. While the translation is in progress, someone revises the original master document. This means you now might be working with an outdated paragraph or one no longer present in the master version. This article tries to map this problem to parallel development, which version control systems solve with the branch and merge model. You will also see how svk helps you maintain translated documents easily.
Every project has its own unique set of 'opportunities'--also known as challenges. Many of these challenges relate not to the quality of our work, but rather to the communication of our ideas. Often in the course of design, you must communicate complicated concepts to a non-technical (and often uninterested) project sponsor, client, or stakeholder. So how do you capture their interest, get their understanding and buy-in, and finally move on?
In our research, we've found that teams that build out a re-use strategy see tangible benefits: They are more likely to get a completed design sooner, with all the little nuances and details that make for a great experience. Their designs are more likely to meet users expectations by behaving consistently across the entire functionality. Plus, the teams iterate faster (always a good thing), giving them a chance to play with the design while it's still malleable.
In the same way that the word 'truthiness' is not a real word but is gaining usage in our culture, so the word 'connectfulness' offers us in the professional arena a way to express an important aspect of our work. Just as truthiness says more than accuracy and is friendlier than truthfulness, so connectfulness says more than networked and is friendlier and more inclusive than connectedness.
Frequent updates for a swarm of modular plug-ins were interrupting work on larger, higher-value projects. Worse, development was happening in a time zone 12 hours away, making communication a major bottleneck. Faced with fixed resources and growing commitments, our writing group extended existing tools to automate information gathering and rough draft creation, thereby halving the writer time each module required. This paper describes the user interface, tool extensions, and reusable information approach we used to solve the problem.