New Manager: How do you take over as manager for a group of technical writers?

I recently received an email which asked: Since my career seems to be following a path broadly similar to yours … I’d love to know what your experience was and any lessons learned. Specifically Mark, who sent the email, asked a few questions: How do you take over as manager for a group of technical writers? How do you get better management buy-in (promise cheaper or faster dox?)? What are the first activities you should do (content audit, benchmarking?)? How soon is *not* too soon to start changing things? I’ll break each question out into a new post so, without further ado, onto question #1. How do you take over as manager for a group of technical writers? Carefully! Typically …

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Fellow Followers

A couple of days ago I Twittered the following “Twitter-verse – recommendations for a Photo Poster service (ie, send them a JPG, they send back a large format ‘poster’ of said photo)“, to which Lyle responded “@gordon : Photobox, although it does depend on the size of print“. Last night I browsed to the Photobox website and had a look around. I didn’t fill in any details, although I did bookmark the specific page I was looking for so I could revisit it at a later date (e.g. after pay day!). And today I received an email from Twitter stating that “PhotoBox (PhotoBox) is now following your updates on Twitter.” Coincidence? I think not. Evidence that Twitter is now in …

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Get off your RSS

January draws to a close (already!!) and it is time for me to own up. I’ve been experimenting on you. Sorry about that but, on the bright side, it’s not like some weird alien abduction involving probes and brain washing. In fact, if I’m honest, it’s only really occurred to me these past couple of days that I’ve been experimenting. I’ve been posting to this blog for a very long time and it’s fair to say, and indeed I did say it, that my blogging mojo was slowly eroding. To try and see if it was just laziness I decided that I’d try and post every single day for at least the month of January, and then see how I …

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Feeling Good

Birds flying high you know how I feel, Sun in the sky you know how I feel, Reeds driftin’ on by you know how I feel OK, so it’s maybe not a new day, a new life, or at least not in the grander scheme of things. I’m not reborn or anything, but there is a noted shift in my mindset and thinking these past few weeks. Perhaps it is down to the fact I’m writing everyday. Yes, some of the blog posts have been less than inspirational but I’m enjoying the habit of making myself write. Perhaps it is the realisation that my work persona is shifting slightly. That is more subtle, and has come about through several little …

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Previously on 24… er.. this blog…

One thing I don’t do very often is revisit previous, recent, posts and offer any closure or update. However I think the following are worthwhile revisiting: 1. My iPhone Apps In the process of writing that post, I realised that the some applications I did have on my iPhone weren’t quite right. So I spent a little time hunting for better alternatives and on the way picked up a couple of new applications. Replaced applications include: Tweetie in for Twitterific – Twitterific was great when it first came out but seems to have been left dormant, Tweetie is far more complete. Remember the Milk in for Zenbe lists – Zenbe is a good, web aware, list app but it’s not …

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Music to work by

I have a thing for loud, chord heavy rock music. It is why I still enjoy tracks from The Cult, why Puddle of Mudd, Eagles of Death Metal, Aerosmith and the like feature heavily on my playlists. None of those acts (with perhaps the exception of Aerosmith) would claim that they are at the pinnacle of song writing, I doubt they’re expecting an Ivor Novello anytime soon but they do write some catchy, if simple, melodies. Ideal stuff to whack on in the background whilst I’m getting my head down to work. On a separate note, is this a generational thing? The need to have a source of ‘noise’ to help focus? Anyway, riff-tastic rock is a tried and tested …

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Cherryleaf Survey

Cherryleaf will soon be publishing the results of their recent survey of Documentation Managers* and, having skimmed through a preview, the main thing that leaps out at me is that the field of Technical Communications in the UK remains as diverse as ever in many respects, yet completely the same in others, and none of that is a huge surprise. Whilst we all may use different tools and approaches to our work, we all feel under the same constraints of time and resource. However the results do throw up a couple of issues and, as one of the participants of the survey, I thought I’d expand a little on one of those. The survey hints at two issues: “The documentation …

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MacBook Screen issues

There is a dot on my screen. It’s not a small dot, it’s not a distinct dot so I guess it’s more of a blurry circle. But it’s there, in the middle of the screen, glowing at me. It’s slightly worrying. It’s most noticeable when I dim the screen all the way down. On the MacBook you can use the F1 and F2 keys to decrease and increase the brightness. What the following photo tries to show is the screen set to minimum brightness (the next step down is completely dark/off). Ignore all the reflections and screen dazzle, that weird glowing circle in the middle looks almost exactly like that (I’ve adjusted the pic very slightly to make it more …

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Jumping Twitter?

I’ve been Twittering for almost two years now and after being an early adopter who quickly turned naysayer, it’s now proving to be useful in a myriad of subtle and different ways. It alerts me to breaking news (I heard of the Hudson River crash before anything featured on the BBC News website), provides movie, music and book recommendations, links to interesting websites and topics, and keeps me amused with that little touch of voyeuristic pleasure that is akin to sneak a peek into a living room window as you walk past. I think it’s safe to say that, as Stephen Fry said last night, I get it. I can’t recall the exact quote, nor who said it, but the …

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