RE: Creating a template with locked

Subject: RE: Creating a template with locked
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: 'Gene Kim-Eng' <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>, Cat Salm <catrose15 -at- hotmail -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2011 21:51:20 -0700

Gene Kim-Eng wrote:

> Is this a situation where the other people:
> a. are all preparing different documents you want to unify
> b. each own different sections of the same document or
> c. are all trying to make changes to the same sections of a document?
> The technical/tools approach is different for each, but for all a
> certain
> amount of top-down direction from upper management is needed to drive
> home
> the point that a single point of contact (presumably you) is the final
> arbiter of style and composition standards for all.

Gene is absolutely correct. Cat, you've gotten some good suggestions. I think by far the best is comment-enabled PDFs that reviewers can mark up in Reader. But the workflow/tool isn't the fundamental problem.

You described the fundamental problem when you said:

> 4) The group I am working with is determined to each have their own
> way, <snip>
> I'm at my wits end and open to any suggestions. They are driving me
> nuts with the constant bickering and how nasty and negative they are
> about these publications if they don't get what they want. And no
> matter what I do - they are never happy.

It's not possible to author a coherent document if half a dozen people (especially bickering, nasty people) all have equal authority to decide what's in it, how its presented, and what the wording should be. Someone has to own the document and have the authority (and cojones) to say, "Thanks for your suggestions. I've made my decision about that. Let's move on." If you don't have that authority, and the backing of management, then you're not a tech writer, you're clerical help.

Yes, subject matter experts can and should be able to reject or correct content based on technical accuracy. But it sounds like the group you're working with is going beyond that. (If not -- if this bickering is over substantive issues of accuracy, not wording, manner of presentation, etc. -- then you need to step away, tell the disagreeing -- and disagreeable -- SMEs to resolve the content accuracy issues among themselves and then get back to you.)

Assuming you're even half-competent as a tech writer, these people have no business wasting your and their time bickering over anything unrelated to the technical accuracy of the content. Your manager and their manager(s) need to make that clear. Maybe someone even higher up needs to make it clear to them.

And if you're the Milquetoast type who's easily pushed around by everyone, you need to stiffen your spine. Talk to your manager about the situation and make it clear to him/her and to the bickerers that you can't continue to operate like this. Either you own the documents, or all the cooks spoiling the broth can just take the docs over and leave you out of it.

If it comes to that, then Chris's suggestions are in order. :-}

Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


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Creating a template with locked: From: Cat Salm
Re: Creating a template with locked: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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