Re: Request of Advice

Subject: Re: Request of Advice
From: Bill Swallow <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2010 13:52:20 -0400

>> Still not sure where the disgruntlement or dismissal comes into play,
>> unless you're making a very specific, targeted argument to support a
>> previously overarching point.
> Well, the original scenario was a cadre of relatively inexperienced
> writers already in place, and a new tool is needed, and it's
> more economical - less lost productivity - to hire someone
> experienced with the tool than to attempt to train the people
> who already work for you.

I don't think this was a "fire them and hire someone more experienced"
argument at all. My understanding is that the point was more of a
lesson. "This is why you should always have an experienced writer on
your team." At least that's how I saw it.

> Then, that shifted slightly to an emphasis where the hero was
> not necessarily experienced with the required tools, but
> did have years of overall TW experience and would therefore
> still be able to pick up full-bore productive use of the tool
> (and the company subject matter) before the inexperienced
> people on staff could be trained.

I think someone else snuck the "company subject matter" in at one
point to counter the assertion that an experienced tech writer needs
less ramp-up time with new tools. ;-)

> It wasn't a case of a /h/e/r/o/ contractor being hired to
> get the existing staff up to speed on the new tools, while
> they continue being somewhat productive. It was the hero
> swooping in and being productive - as somebody posted later -
> within hours.  So, the existing staff is either pushed
> aside - they can't be productive with the new tool they've
> never met, and no training -  or is dismissed.

I think that part was a misunderstanding, because I never saw anything
to the effect of "hey you inexperienced keyboard monkeys, get outta my
way and let a real writer show you how it's done".

> Else, how can you justify the larger outlay for the new body?

Another misunderstanding. It's the difference between "this is why you
should keep experienced writers around" vs. "hire an experienced
writer and ditch the ones you have".

> If a few days of training and ramp-up with a tool are too
> costly in lost productivity, what are the chances that the
> company thinks they can still afford to keep those drones around?

A few days of training and ramp-up are very seldom adequate for truly
learning a new skill. They build the foundation upon which the skill
is built over time. It's a huge fallacy that I've worked to correct
for nearly all my professional life; management needs to understand
that training != instant productivity.

> Those drones have been there a year and have the only
> TW and user knowledge-base (as opposed to developer/SME
> knowledge base which is different). If they aren't
> immediately let go, they can see which way the wind
> blows. Just when they thought their year of product
> relevant experience and increasing productivity was
> going to pay off in a raise, they get either the
> boot or the dunce corner.
> You see, if they actually had been non-productive drones,
> then there would effectively be no loss of productivity
> in training them (probably no benefit either...) however
> it was stipulated that the days they would take to
> learn the new tool and get back to full productivity
> would be too expensive a productivity loss. Ipso-facto,
> they were productive.  Just not with the new tool.

Again, that wasn't at all the point I had understood to be the topic
of conversation. I would never condone letting a bunch of
subject-matter expertise go in favor of bringing on a better tool

> Clear as mud, right?  :-)

Only when it's slung. ;-)

Bill Swallow

Twitter: @techcommdood

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Request of Advice: From: s_borgioli
Re: Request of Advice: From: John Posada
RE: Request of Advice: From: Dan Goldstein
Re: Request of Advice: From: John Posada
Re: Request of Advice: From: Bill Swallow
RE: Request of Advice: From: McLauchlan, Kevin
Re: Request of Advice: From: Bill Swallow
RE: Request of Advice: From: McLauchlan, Kevin

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