A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Employees Want to be Led by Leaders Who Lead

Virtually every employee in an organization performs a discrete set of tasks. Only the leader sees the big picture -- unless the leader does a good job of conveying that big picture to his workforce. Of course, there's more to leadership than getting people to buy into your vision.

Holtz, Shel. Communication World Bulletin (2003). Articles>Management>Collaboration>Rhetoric


Enabling Collaborative Design-and-Decision Discussions, Online

What if it were possible to manage the tendency of discussions to branch ad infinitum? What if it were possible to use those discussions to surface the important issues, identify the alternatives, make reasonable choices and, above all, provide a readable history of discussion that made it easy for someone coming along later to understand the basic architecture and find out why things are the way the are? There is an interesting coalition of technologies that could provide those very benefits.

Armstrong, Eric. Sun Microsystems (2008). Articles>Collaboration>Online


Enabling Information Sharing Integrity

Most companies accept the rapid obsolescence of their documents as an unavoidable cost of doing business. Its not. When dynamic documents replace static documents, users can bring together disparate, distributed data and content and combine it in a single document that is always accurate and up-to-date.

Sorofman, Jake. Content Wrangler, The (2008). Articles>Content Management>XML>Collaboration


The End of E-Mail

It's supposed to make life easier, but e-mail has become a big pain. Enter the wiki, new software that could change the way you communicate.

Dahl, Darren. Inc. Magazine (2006). Articles>Collaboration>Online>Email


The Enterprise Information Portal and eBusiness   (members only)

The rapid advance of the Internet, groupware, relational databases and search engines allows knowledge workers to come together and share ideas and information as never before.

KMworld (2001). Articles>Collaboration>Online


Establishing an Editorial Forum   (PDF)

With the advent of the World Wide Web, many areas besides Publications produce documents for outside customers. This paper discusses how to establish and organize a forum to make, track, and publicize company-wide style guidelines.

Gelb, Janice. STC Proceedings (2000). Presentations>Collaboration>Style Guides


Event Attendance: Being There

While attending a conference event, keep in mind your goal to connect with new people in your industry. Here are a few things I did to maximize my industry connections while at the conference.

From The Crow's Nest (2010). Articles>Conferences>Collaboration


Event Attendance: Follow Up

In this series of blog posts, I’m going to share with you ideas for getting the most from a conference, industry event, or local meetup. You can use and modify this information to cover everything from single evening events to multiple day industry conferences.

From The Crow's Nest (2010). Articles>Collaboration


Event Attendance: Preparation

In the weeks before my conference, I invested a little time to start building connections with other attendees. Here are a few things I did to maximize my industry connections before the conference.

From the Crow's Nest (2010). Articles>Conferences>Collaboration


Exit, Voice, and Sensemaking Following Psychological Contract Violations: Women's Responses to Career Advancement Barriers   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Much of the theory guiding career development research is grounded in studies of men's careers in professional positions. In addition to largely ignoring the career experiences of women, the career literature pays little attention to overcoming barriers to career advancement in organizations—a challenge many women and men both face over the course of their career development. Using survey data, analyses of in-depth interviews, and a focus group discussion with female executives in the high-tech industry, this study finds variations of three responses: exit, voice, and rationalizing to remain are used by women in response to career barriers. These responses form the foundation of a career barrier sensemaking and response framework presented in the study. Findings indicate that perceived organizational sanctioning of career barriers and the organization's commitment to the career advancement of other women also influence participants' responses to barriers and their strategies for sensemaking, respectively.

Hamel, Stephanie A. JBC (2009). Careers>Business Communication>Collaboration>Gender


Experience Themes

When a screenwriter can summarize a story in one sentence, he has a compass that can guide him throughout the writing process. Cindy Chastain chronicles how we can translate this approach to help us remember the quality and value of the experience we intend to deliver.

Chastain, Cindy. Boxes and Arrows (2009). Articles>Web Design>User Experience>Collaboration


Explaining Your Contribution as a Technical Communicator

Technical writers sometimes find it difficult to explain what they do in a few words. Maybe it’s not so bad when you’re talking to your uncle, but if you’re unable to explain this to your project manager, it can be awkward.

Minson, Benjamin. Gryphon Mountain (2010). Articles>TC>Collaboration


Exploring Negative Group Dynamics: Adversarial Network, Personality, and Performance in Project Groups   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Most previous social network studies have focused on the positive aspects of social relationships. In contrast, this research examined how the negative aspects of social networks in work groups can influence individual performance within the group. Accordingly, two studies were conducted to make this assessment. The first study examined the effect of negative relations and frequency of communication on performance among student groups. The second study investigated how the Five Factor Model of personality and position in adversarial networks interacted to influence individuals' performance. Although results of the first study indicated that frequent communication with others could make a person more likeable, consequently helping him or her perform better, the second study showed that those individuals disliked by others were less likely to achieve a good performance rating, despite their conscientiousness, emotional stability, or openness to experiences.

Xia, Ling, Y. Connie Yuan and Geri Gay. Management Communication Quarterly (2009). Articles>Collaboration>Workplace


Extreme Programming

Extreme Programming (or XP) is a popular software development process that encourages a return to the days of little or no documentation, Design After First Testing, and Constant Refactoring After Programming. Despite its popularity, not everyone thinks XP is a good idea.

Software Reality (2005). Articles>Collaboration>Agile>Extreme Documentation


Faceted Feature Analysis

By crossing the characterizing facets with constraints, you are combining the subjective needs of the project stakeholders with the objective constraints of the project in a way that ensures all points of view are fairly considered. It also ensures that a project requirement is not included or excluded simply because one person yelled louder than the others.

Polansky, Adam. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Design>Project Management>Collaboration


Facilitating Better Teamwork: Analyzing the Challenges and Strategies of Classroom-Based Collaboration   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

To help students develop teamwork skills, teachers should be aware of the strategies students already employ to assert authority and manage conflict. Researchers studying engineering students have identified two such approaches: transfer-of-knowledge sequences, in which students emulate teacher and pupil roles; and collaborative sequences, in which students use circular talk to reach consensus. As demonstrated in this article, these strategies are also used by students in professional communication courses. The second half of this article provides specific suggestions for designing team assignments, interacting effectively with student teams, and developing evaluations that value the process of teamwork.

Fredrick, Terri A. Business Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Education>Collaboration


Facilitating Teamwork With Lean Six Sigma and Web-Based Technology   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

One of the largest team-based projects that I worked on in industry involved a team of more than a dozen members, a multiyear timeline, and a budget well into six figures. Our task was to deliver a new corporate Web site. As the business owner of that project, I remember sitting down with our IT manager, who explained that she would be assisting the team in managing the cost, scope, and time involved in delivering the end product. I was thrilled to have someone who would help ensure we were successful across those variables, until she told me that I had to pick one of the three as the most important. When the team ran into issues, she said her team would sacrifice aspects of the other two. Although I insisted all three were equally important, the manager ultimately decided that cost would be the controlling variable because it was the one by which she and her team would be judged by her supervisor. My experience with projects like this one has led me to think about what successful teams look like and then to determine how best to foster such teams.

Krause, Tim. Business Communication Quarterly (2009). Articles>Business Communication>Collaboration


Factors in Reader Responses to Negative Letters: Experimental Evidence for Changing What We Teach   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article summarizes the scholarly discussion about negative messages and reports the results of two pretests and two experiments using negative letters. The results show that buffers did not significantly affect college students' responses to simulated letters refusing credit and denying admission to graduate school, and strong resale was counterproductive. Students responded least favorably to rejection when they were surprised by it and when their other options were limited. On the basis of these experiments and the published literature, the author recommends that negative letters normally begin with the reason for the refusal, using a buffer only if one of several exceptions apply. If the reason makes the company look good, it should be spelled out in as much detail as possible. If an alternative or compromise exists, the writer should suggest it. Although a positive ending is not necessary, if one is used, a bland positive is better than a strong one, especially in letters to clients or customers.

Locker, Kitty O. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (1999). Articles>Editing>Collaboration


FC.Net - Getting Started

Born to lead or learn to lead? Truth is -- no one knows for sure. But there is a small industry of writing, teaching, and speaking built on the proposition that you can at least talk about it. Studies by the Center for Creative Leadership and the Honeywell Corporation suggest that, after direct experience, the second source of learning about leadership is conversation with others.

Breen, Bill. Fast Company (1996). Articles>Management>Collaboration


Feature Presentation

A spiral of complexity, often called “feature creep,” costs consumers time, but it also costs businesses money. Product returns in the U.S. cost a hundred billion dollars a year, and a recent study by Elke den Ouden, of Philips Electronics, found that at least half of returned products have nothing wrong with them. Consumers just couldn’t figure out how to use them. Companies now know a great deal about problems of usability and consumer behavior, so why is it that feature creep proves unstoppable?

Surowiecki, James. New Yorker, The (2007). Articles>Project Management>Technology>Collaboration


Fifteen Tips for Remote Collaboration

It will always be easier to rally a group of people who work in the same building, but you can accomplish just as much (or more) with a motivated remote team. Getting team members motivated in the first place and holding their interest are your goals. Here are fifteen quick and useful tips to get you started.

Young, Indi. Adaptive Path (2003). Careers>Collaboration>Online


Fifteen Tips for Remote Collaboration

It will always be easier to rally a group of people who work in the same building, but you can accomplish just as much (or more) with a motivated remote team. Getting team members motivated in the first place and holding their interest are your goals. Here are fifteen quick and useful tips to get you started.

Young, Indi. Adaptive Path (2003). Articles>Collaboration>Telecommuting


Filling Knowledge Gaps   (PDF)   (members only)

Knowledge gaps arise when a small team in an organization creates or compiles a body of knowledge that needs to be deployed to a larger group of people. A gap then exists between the small team that has the knowledge and the larger group of people who need it. In the normal course of doing business, healthy organizations naturally create knowledge gaps, and the healthiest organizations create the most knowledge gaps.

Reid, Clifford A. STC Proceedings (1998). Articles>Collaboration>Communication>Knowledge Management


Finding Solutions by Being Aware of the Way You Think   (members only)

It is the task of the project manager to be aware of the larger environment in which a project is operating. One approach that helps achieve this insight is systems thinking.

Fischer, Karl. Global Knowledge (2006). Articles>Project Management>Organizational Communication>Collaboration



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