It pays to have a plan and a direction–all of us generally subscribe to such a common sense idea. After all, you can’t define or prove your success unless you know where you were trying to go in the first place (keeping in mind “pictures or it didn’t happen,” proof requires pictures and documentation these days.) We do lots of planning, formally and informally, just to make it through from the first cup of coffee in the morning, to dropping off to sleep at night. Our employers and clients require lots of planning, using all sorts of templated, copyrighted, and embedded processes and documentation that may or may not resemble reality. They do however provide the means to get paid, and thus become the first among necessary evils.
The plan never really survives beyond the first activity. So even if you monitor it throughout the engagement, you know it’s not a true picture of what happened or needs to happen. Project plans and requirements documents suffer the same fates of needing to be (re) written after the fact, but generally sit in a folder somewhere collecting virtual dust.
At the same time, we need to keep scanning the horizon, for the weather–or pirate ships–that could force us to change course. Think of it as implementing the OT part of a SWOT analysis. Opportunities and threats, common as they are, sometimes appear disguised, and often only get discovered by chance. You can toodle along doing your well-established routines with those well-established tools, and bam! You get an instant message that somebody on the other side of the company is having a meeting right now on a new project for a new tool to transform your well-established routine. Keep scanning and planning, and do hat you need to become a part of that new effort. You could even discover a whole new continent for your troubles.
Our fellow explorers in content strategy, tech comm, user experience design and customer experience management frequently have maps, compasses, even gyroscopes or GPS to offer to help in our quests to support customers and colleagues with great content. Happily, we always find a large supply, like these practical and thought-provoking pieces:
- UX 3: Transfer from Techcomm & Instructional Design
- Stephen King’s practical advice for tech writers
- A Playbook for Improving Customer Journeys
- Mastering user interviews using probes
- How to Do Quality UX On a Shoestring Budget
See what else we’ve discovered in the latest edition of Tech Writer This Week.