The law of diminishing returns and content development

Photo by Thomas Dumortier on Unsplash

There’s a law of diminishing returns you have to watch out for when you’re developing thought leadership and other content. “Perfect is the enemy of good,” according to Voltaire. It’s possible to work on content for too long. For example, creating a PowerPoint deck that takes for months. Or, the fact sheets and white papers that snake through endless revisions. After rounds of unnecessary and contradictory reviews, the extra work ends up being a waste. The window of business opportunity closes. Team members must rush to put out a fire on another project. The content then goes to die amongst the cobwebs of a SharePoint site.

Continue reading

Is there a thought leadership double standard for writers?

Photo by Chris Spiegl on Unsplash

I work in an industry that’s hungry to have their VPs, directors, and senior technical staff to become thought leaders. Informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality and know and show how to replicate their success. For their writers not so much…

Continue reading

In defense of kindness in the editorial review cycle

Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

I took an interest in editorial reviews early in my career. That interest drove me to become a technical reviewer in the computer book industry for several years. I’m not sure they even have that role anymore. At the least publishers may not pay for that review anymore. Sitting through curt and incomplete document reviews made me take those extra steps because there had to be a better way. 

Fast forward to today, I’m a stickler for kindness in the editorial review cycle:

Continue reading

Ambiguity should signal ownership for technical writers

Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

Too many technical writers live in style guides, single sourcing, FrameMaker, processes, and methodologies. They can sometimes escape from the business of software development. This monk like college advanced composition teacher existence can separate the technical writer from the realities of today’s dysfunctional workplace.
When facing down ambiguity, technical writers have two choices:

  • Wallow in the dysfunction and complain how the organization doesn’t understand technical documentation and that they can’t do anything right. At least they get out of taking meeting minutes because the organization isn’t so formal. They get to spend plenty of time on Instagram. But that last until project gets on the critical. Demands come down for documentation deliverables. Then a mad scramble begins to complete the documents under tight timelines.
  • Chart their own course for your documentation projects by building strong cases for decisions and take documentation off your management’s worry list leaving  the manager to fight real fires. It’s always better to be controlling your documentation efforts.

Ambiguity should be seen as an opportunity to take the reins over technical documentation and help your client or manager cross out one worry from their list. Technical writers can rise and fall from the opportunities that happen in ambiguous environments.


Technical writers need to take ownership of their projects in such environments.