Learn to Love Structured Authoring (and all kinds of other new stuff)
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
change and transitions.
Loss of creativity
It’s a rare writer that does not on
some level consider herself a
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
Loss of Control
How much control do you need?
Do you really want to be
The Formatting Police?
What stylesheets once did for desk
… XML and DITA now do for single-
Is it so different? I think not.
It’s too hard to learn ( … at my age)
And everyone said that about
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.
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
Uncomfortable, scratchy, stiff
Structured Authoring is New. Really?
Open the cover of any
(text)book, chances are you’ll see:
This is structure.
It repeats for every chapter.
The book itself is structured – it’s
Loss of Creativity?
Is a journalist less creative than a
Is a novelist less creative than a
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?
Loss of Control?
What control/influence might bring
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
Brevity and Clarity User Wins
It’s too inflexible? Actually, more flexible!
XML is (just) a markup language.
DITA is a protocol (as are DocBook,
And they’re all almost infinitely
customizable for your company’s
needs. In DITA, it’s called
Note: It’s about your company’s
needs, not yours. So make the
They come in all shapes, sizes,
materials and colours …
Summary: Unknown = Unloved
These are all symptoms of
FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN
The fastest way to overcome these
(unfounded) fears is to
You can’t love what you fear
But you can learn about the unknown,
Internet, Webinars, Conferences, etc.
Now let’s look at …
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.
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
How change is introduced …
If we explain the business
people will understand.
If we tell them what will
people will adjust.
If we give them application
people will follow the
processes as intended.
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).
Rule # 1
Inefficient Processes + New
Technology = Failure
Upgrading or automating a
… same problems, just faster
and harder to fix
So, before you do anything
Fix what’s broken
Get your key people – within
and outside of your team –
Identify “legacy” rules that
have no current purpose.
Cut, simplify, streamline
Change can be painful
If: perceived pain of adoption is
greater than the perceived pain
of the crisis, then you have a
PPA > PPC =
Benefits must be worth the
trouble of changing.
What’s the burning platform
How to recognize resistance
Passive resistance; apathy
Clinging to inefficient
Jealously guarding expertise;
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.
Most people don’t like surprises
So, get everyone together, as early
on in the project as possible, and
Talk about the problem, not the solution.
Focus on positive outcomes and benefits.
Tap into collective memories.
Provide forum for sharing experiences.
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
3. Use peer-mentoring (buddy
Emma Hamer, Human Performance Consultant