Machiavelli for tech writers



Tina the tech writer could have done with a bit less passive aggression and a bit more canniness. The muttering, grumbling tech writer who is forever being overruled touches a chord with a lot of people in our profession. So, what can be done for a tech writer to gain more influence within an organization?

Here is my (and I hope its not too Machiavellian) suggestions for steering documentation concerns:

  • Don’t complain to fellow tech writers or other colleagues about how powerless you feel. The more you complain about it, the more you enforce it.
  • Write a list of issues that you see as impeding documentation projects.
  • Take the list up with people that you think can do something about it and help you change things to your (and documentation’s) advantage, i.e. a manager, for example.
  • Never be afraid to let others know your opinion, but do it in the right forum, i.e. meetings, not at the coffee dock.
  • Push ideas forward in a positive way and never dwell on how bad things are now; look for solutions.
  • Make lines in the sand between tech writer’s sphere of influence and others in the organization by formalizing processes and input as much as possible. It is all too common that engineers stick their noses into your business.
  • Emphasize your (tech writer’s) skills and importance to the organization (but again, more important to do this with those with power in the organization and not all and sundry, otherwise you will be exhausted from talking).
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