Katherine Brennan Murphy
Principal, Tapestry Communications


During our January 7 Innovator’s Forum meeting, we discussed the best way to communicate our vision both inside our groups and within the larger organizations. JoAnn facilitated our discussion by taking us through a draft presentation entitled “The Tech Writer’s Life in a Content-Management World: A Vision of Success.” The group generally felt that this storytelling approach might work well for their staffs and that it did begin to focus attention on how the changes affect each member of their teams.

Many members have had difficulty selling content management within their groups. One person found that the group responded very well to training classes. Another noted that an outside training organization helped her in-house guru to communicate the details of transition more effectively. Another organization experienced a relatively smooth ramp up only to be plagued with complaints once the staff started taking the new system’s productivity improvements for granted. One member noted that they’ve had to tweak their tool to avoid creating closely related cousin and son of cousin modules. In general, the Forum participants found JoAnn’s presentation an excellent catalyst for discussing our individual cases and bouncing ideas around for solving specific problems.

One staff complaint that several people noted was the staffs’ perception that content-management tools provide gains in efficiency at the expense of quality. We discussed, at length, what quality means. In the past, we focused attention on writing and editing quality. And, when we were able to do so, we talked with customers and molded the documents to meet their needs and tasks. However, several members noted that our definition of quality needs to expand to include efficiency, consistency, and quick access to specific information. As Bill Hackos noted: “They need to understand that quality is not just usability or grammar, it is also cost savings. One of quality’s characteristics is efficiency.” As we move forward, the Forum will work on creating an expanded vision of quality—perhaps a quality manifesto—that organizations can use to spark reasoned debates on the characteristics and measures of quality.

For our next meeting on Tuesday, February 3, we have each agreed to create and share our department’s vision statements with each other. Several people are going to look at a storytelling approach. We are also going to complete our Stakeholder Analysis for each of our projects and begin discussing how these analyses will help us tell the burning platform story so that we can move forward on our project work.