Part VI: Results from the survey correlating org models and tech writer value
In the previous post in this series, I included a survey to gather feedback from readers about their layoff experiences and whether the organizational model has any impact on the value tech writers receive in organizations. In this post, I'll analyze the survey responses and draw conclusions where possible.
A tip for doc reviews -- bring a list of questions
Although doc reviews are a central part of the tech writing process, it's often a challenge to get teams to review docs. One tip is to bring a list of questions to the doc review. This provides more structure and focus to the review meeting.
Write the Docs Episode 30: Documentation templates, with Juan Lara
In Write the Docs podcast episode 30, Juan Lara from Google joins us for a lively discussion about documentation templates.
Writing productivity tip: Focus sessions
I'm trying out a new writing productivity tip that seems to be working fairly well for me: focus sessions. A writing focus session is a one-hour session focused on a writing task. I made a goal last week of doing four writing focus sessions (at work) each day. I figured I should at least be able to devote half of my work day as a professional technical writer doing writing. This technique has boosted my writing productivity recently.
Upcoming webinar -- Optimizing Content Development: Grow Your Content Faster Than You Grow Your Team
I'm participating in an upcoming webinar called Optimizing Content Development: Grow Your Content Faster Than You Grow Your Team, with Paul Gustafson and Megan Gilhooly on August 5, 2020.
Part VI: Conclusion, analysis, and feedback
Several takeaways to fix the low-value / layoff issue with tech comm is to focus on strategic projects, limit your scope, and be more visible with the documentation you're creating. (Note: This post is divided up into six parts — see the navigation in the left sidebar or use the embedded menus.)
Part V: On being strategic, interpersonal, and sponsored
Darnell Clarke explains several reasons why employees find themselves on a layoff list. Some of the reasons include not being strategic, not being interpersonal (staying in the shadows), and not having a sponsor. (Note: This post is divided up into six parts — see the navigation in the left sidebar or use the embedded menus.)
Part IV: Engaging deep enough to blur the lines between content and product design
Jonathon Colman presents an interesting solution to the over-allocation problem for content designers by reducing their project load to just 1-2 projects so that content designers can immerse more deeply and play a hybrid content/product designer role on teams. (Note: This post is divided up into six parts — see the navigation in the left sidebar or use the embedded menus.)
Part III: Correlating organization models with low value estimations
A prominent factor in the low-value equation for tech comm in many companies might be the company's organization model — whether the tech comm group is centralized, decentralized, or distributed. (Note: This post is divided up into six parts — see the navigation in the left sidebar or use the embedded menus.)
Part II: Personal layoff stories and reasons
Even though we were all laid off at the same time, each of my colleague's has a unique story about their layoff, the reasons for it, and how they steered their career in different directions afterwards. (Note: This post is divided up into six parts — see the navigation in the left sidebar or use the embedded menus.)
Part I: Introduction and background
As a follow-up to a previous guest post about why tech writers are treated as unimportant in a company, I decided to interview former colleagues from a team I was on at a company in Utah seven years ago. Back in 2013, our whole team had been unexpectedly laid off from this company. Some of the reasons for the layoff include a misalignment with the department’s priorities and lack of a sponsor or documentation champion. After reviewing their stories, I think the core of the tech comm value problem is the way technical writers are diluted across many projects and departments, which limits their ability to engage deeply and provide greater, more visible value. (Note: This post is divided up into six parts — see the navigation in the left sidebar or use the embedded menus.)
Developer portal strategies for complex landscapes -- conversation with Kristof van Tomme
Recently I chatted with Kristof van Tomme, CEO and co-founder of Pronovix, about a topic that's become increasingly relevant in the past several months: how to deal with complex, rapidly evolving landscapes. Specifically, we focus on developer portal strategies that involve finding a balance between constraints and flexibility. Too many constraints reduces your ability to adapt to uncertain changes that might require innovative, unknown solutions. Too much flexibility might not lead to any coherent, overarching story about how to use your APIs in an integrated way toward a business goal.
What makes a good covid sign?
Have you noticed lately that there are a million new signs everywhere providing instruction about how to act due to Covid19? The different approaches in these signs makes them interesting to analyze. I took a few pictures the other day of signs I saw on my hike near Rancho San Antonio, a stop at Trader Joe's, and then a trip to my local park. I thought it would be fun to write a post critiquing the different approaches and to arrive at a conclusion about what makes a good Covid sign. Do the same principles behind a good sign also apply to UI text?
Treat code like code and prose like prose
Some recent experiences have prompted me to rethink the value of treating docs like code in some respects. I want to return to focusing more on content rather than technical workflows, especially when creating new content. Some of the docs-like-code processes exclude too many people in non-engineer roles who would otherwise contribute to the review and development of the content.
Diversity in tech comm -- Conversation with John Paz
In this conversational Q&A post, I chat with John Paz, a senior content designer for Atlassian, about diversity in tech comm. It's well known that the tech industry, particularly in Silicon Valley, struggles to live up to its ideals about diversity. The employee demographics at most tech companies don't reflect the same demographics of their surrounding communities. Even when minorities are hired, promotions and leadership positions within the company are another roadblock. John gives us his unique insight into the diversity issue, specifically focusing on tech comm and his experiences both in the Bay area and elsewhere.
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