I read an interesting article (which is itself a response to another article) that discusses how data analysis companies define themselves (or are defined) by the software-consulting spectrum. Basically, will the company be more focused on training users and sending them off to analyze their data, or will the company focus on a high-touch model where consultants do most of the work?
It’s the time of year for technical communication industry predictions, but that’s not my speciality. I don’t have my finger on the pulse of techcomm; in fact, I’ve been feeling like I’m in an isolated backwater. When people learn that I’m using ZenDesk for documentation they think that I’m either very brave or very masochistic.
As Luke Skywalker would have told me, “Well, if there’s a bright center to the [technical communications] universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from.”
[Speaking of, what sort of help system would you write for a lightsaber? “Point shiny end away from face and good luck”?]
Getting back on target…
Last month I attended and spoke on a panel at the Information Development World conference. Scott Abel very kindly invited me to be part of the Management Issues in Information Development panel. I had a great time, and I picked up some great advice.
I’ve been at my current company for a year and a half, and my role is a mix of technical communications and customer support (which is really technical communication with a specific person instead of a group of current customers and prospective customers).
As my company is growing and taking on more customers, I need to build a team. I’m figuring out what that team will look like, and what sort of skills and personalities I need to fill those roles.
My boss keeps telling me that the great thing about startups is that everyone wants to do everything. And the worst thing about startups is that everyone tries to do everything.
I should have listened more closely. Heroic efforts are good sometimes. But you can’t base realist plans on that. If you do, it’ll bite you in the ass. That’s what happened to me.
I usually work in a tactical writing mode: documenting new features and workflows in an agile development environment, or writing special content for training or specific customer requirements. I’m very comfortable working at a tactical level. But in the iron triangle of fast/cheap/good (where you can pick any two), going for fast/good incurs a cost that’s very easy to miss for a while: losing sight of the strategic goals…or failing to create them at all.