Embracing The Straightjacket


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Slide deck for X-pubs Webinar April 29, 2009 - Helping staff mbrace change by understanding why they fear it

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Embracing The Straightjacket

  1. 1. Learn to Love Structured Authoring (and all kinds of other new stuff)
  2. 2. Overview This Webinar is not about Structured Authoring, per se. It’s about the often Common Myths wrenching process to transition from unstructured to structured authoring. Different Perspectives This webinar is about Change. Change: Why We Fear It It’s about understanding why change is sometimes so painful, recognizing the Change: When We Embrace It symptoms of resistance to change, and learning to think differently about Moving Forward change and transitions.
  3. 3. Loss of creativity It’s a rare writer that does not on some level consider herself a “creative professional”. And justifiably so. But we’re talking “small c” creative. This is not the creative of Dylan Thomas, or GB Shaw, or even of Carrie Bradshaw … This creativity is about solving problems, about finding ways to help users, about bringing order to information.
  4. 4. Loss of Control How much control do you need? Do you really want to be The Formatting Police? What stylesheets once did for desk top publishing… … XML and DITA now do for single- source publishing. Is it so different? I think not.
  5. 5. It’s too hard to learn ( … at my age) And everyone said that about HTML, too. Learning new things is fun, if:  You are given time to learn.  You are supported in the process.  You can experience the benefits of using new tools.
  6. 6. It’s too inflexible: a straightjacket. Help! One size can’t fit all! There is no room for exceptions! The rules are impossible to follow! Structured Authoring, and its second cousin, Simplified Technical English, are both perceived as too rigid. Straightjackets. Uncomfortable, scratchy, stiff things. Ick!
  7. 7. Structured Authoring is New. Really? Open the cover of any (text)book, chances are you’ll see:  Chapter number  Chapter Title  Quote (optional)  Opening Paragraph  Body Paragraph(s)  Summary (optional) This is structure. It repeats for every chapter. The book itself is structured – it’s called “genre”.
  8. 8. Loss of Creativity? Is a journalist less creative than a novelist? Is a novelist less creative than a poet? Is a free-form “spoken word” poet less creative than one who writes sonnets? Or iambic pentameter? Is what you do less creative than any of the above?
  9. 9. Loss of Control? What control/influence might bring more value? Quality/accuracy User experience Comprehension (User testing) Consistency of vocabulary use Writing a sonnet, instead of prose, probably requires you to dig deeper and be more creative, given the constraints of the model. The bonus/benefit: Brevity and Clarity  User Wins
  10. 10. It’s too inflexible? Actually, more flexible! XML is (just) a markup language. DITA is a protocol (as are DocBook, S1000D). And they’re all almost infinitely customizable for your company’s needs. In DITA, it’s called specialization. Note: It’s about your company’s needs, not yours. So make the business case! They come in all shapes, sizes, materials and colours …
  11. 11. Summary: Unknown = Unloved These are all symptoms of FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN The fastest way to overcome these (unfounded) fears is to EDUCATE YOURSELF! You can’t love what you fear But you can learn about the unknown, Internet, Webinars, Conferences, etc. Now let’s look at …
  12. 12. We’re just wired that way To survive in the hostile environment of our early years as a species, we developed razor-sharp instincts to detect threats. Any change in the established and known pattern was a potential threat. We’ve had eons to thoroughly perfect this response . However, we no longer live in caves, and we’re no longer stalked by sabretooth tigers on a daily basis.
  13. 13. Today’s world of rapid change According to LISA’s 2006 Global Business Practices Survey: “Staff resistance to change is a factor that complicates roughly half of all technology implementation projects and severely threatens about one in ten.”
  14. 14. How change is introduced … If we explain the business rationale, people will understand. If we tell them what will change, people will adjust. If we give them application training, people will follow the processes as intended.
  15. 15. Here’s where that reasoning is flawed: Management’s expectation: But: behaviour is more complex. People will naturally fall in line Everyone has different drivers. (and do as they’re told).
  16. 16. Rule # 1 Inefficient Processes + New Technology = Failure Upgrading or automating a dysfunctional process: … same problems, just faster and harder to fix So, before you do anything else:
  17. 17. Fix what’s broken Get your key people – within and outside of your team – involved. Identify “legacy” rules that have no current purpose. Cut, simplify, streamline processes.
  18. 18. Change can be painful If: perceived pain of adoption is greater than the perceived pain of the crisis, then you have a problem. PPA > PPC = Benefits must be worth the trouble of changing. What’s the burning platform issue?
  19. 19. How to recognize resistance Dysfunctional behavior; territorialism Passive resistance; apathy Clinging to inefficient work methods Jealously guarding expertise; no sharing Politicized environment
  20. 20. What triggers resistance? Fear of … … losing status and expertise … being left behind … appearing stupid or ignorant … being made redundant Emotional reasons. Every one. If the fears are about emotions, then overcoming resistance is about acknowledging emotions. Simple, really.
  21. 21. Most people don’t like surprises So, get everyone together, as early on in the project as possible, and communicate Talk about the problem, not the solution. Focus on positive outcomes and benefits. Tap into collective memories. Provide forum for sharing experiences.
  22. 22. When you encounter resistance: Be gentle! Be patient! Have a one-on-one conversation, in private, ask a few questions, and then shut up and listen Don’t just address the symptoms; focus on possible underlying fears. 1. Acknowledge the emotional pain. 2. Discuss and implement a plan to resolve. 3. Use peer-mentoring (buddy system).
  23. 23. Presented by: Emma Hamer, Human Performance Consultant www.hamer-associates.ca +1-604-317-2234