Re: Bad Office Organization

Subject: Re: Bad Office Organization
From: Mitchell Maltenfort <mmalten -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2005 09:18:13 -0400

(Gah...I sent this before and it got bounced for quoting too much of
Dave's text. Bill Swallow and others must have wondered what I meant
by 'seconded' in my other lettter.)


I sympathize. I'm a Ph.D. moving from research into techical/medical
writing _because_ of what research faculty can be like.

(Once a month, I castigate my parents for raising me to be
conscientious, practical, and helpful; they completely ruined me for
an academic career! But I digress...)

You are NOT going to win with these guys by asking "how am I going to
win with these guys?" Even if all three of you sat down and with your
best word-smithing skills wrote the most polite and persuasive letter
you could imagine to state your case, these guys would slug it off.

Real-life event: in grad school, I saw the administrative assistant
try to explain to the lab chief that if she got his orders in an
orderly fashion, instead of when it occurred to him, she could get
more done in less time. Not ten minutes later, a junior faculty
member asked him what they'd talked about; the lab chief said "Oh, she
wanted less work."

Certain general traits about the species
* They don't like being contradicted, as you've already noticed.

* They don't like conflict, period. I suspect the reason they've
divided you up is so they each have their own independent feifdom.

* They get wrapped up in their own affairs and lose touch. This can
work for you as well as against you.

* Your natural ally is probably the administrative assistant. Like
you, this is a practical and grounded person surrounded by flighty and
capricious sorts. While I've met a few bitter individuals, the bulk
of them are helpful, especially if you show consideration to them.

One tactic I'd try in your shoes is a fait accompli -- that's French
for "sneaky mutiny."

Are the management actually continuously monitoring all three writers?
Collaborate in a way that seems sensible to you (one interviewing
SMEs, one checking for style, etc.?) and swap information back and
forth by email. You've already implied that management aren't
comparing notes with each other at the top level -- who's going to
catch you?

A cash bet that they won't even spot common text and phrasing in all
three projects would be a safe investment.

awarded PhD, 1995
confirmed cynical, 1999


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Bad Office Organization: From: David Loveless

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