When 10X translates into -10X: debunking the myth of the 10X technical coder/writer
A recent episode of Command Line Heroes explores the negatives of toxic 10X coders. I think a change in mindset to acknowledge how each of us climbed to our levels can help avoid some of the toxicity inherent in 10X.
SDK release process article added to API doc course
I added a new article covering SDK release processes in my API course. Even if engineering teams distribute the SDKs, they often look to tech writers for guidance on the Readme, signoff, and other input. The process in the article describes a few callouts that you should look for before distributing SDKs and other code artifacts. You can read the article here: Processes for managing SDK releases.
DX content strategy article added to API doc course
I added an article about content strategy for the developer experience to my API doc course. As the content grows on a developer portal, there's an increasing need for some technical writers to expand their documentation roles from individual contributors creating and publishing new content to dedicated content strategists instead. These dedicated content strategists manage the processes, standards, tools, governance, and workflows for the content that is primarily authored by contributing teams. You can read the article here: DX content strategy with developer portals.
Processes for managing large documentation projects and small documentation requests
Lately I've been thinking about processes for managing documentation work, and I decided to describe in detail a couple of different workflows -- a process for managing large documentation projects, and another process for managing small documentation requests.
Webinar -- Optimizing Content Development: Grow Your Content Faster Than You Grow Your Team
I recently participated in webinar called Optimizing Content Development: Grow Your Content Faster Than You Grow Your Team, with Paul Gustafson and Megan Gilhooly on August 5, 2020. A link to the recording is now available.
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 Podcast 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.
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.)