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Saying Thank You. Saying I'm Sorry.
When #TechComm goes all wrong
Viqui Dill
TechComm Leader at American Woodmark
6/19/201...
Icebreaker
• Who is this?
What did she do?
• Did you ever make a big public mistake?
What did you do to make it right?
htt...
Tech rules our lives
• Tech rules our lives
• Tech can be big
• Tech can be fragile
– When technical things go wrong, they...
Hooray for #TechComm
• The voice of a technical organization
– Training: “I’m sorry it’s hard to do right.”
– Online help:...
Problems with the doc?
• Promptly correct the problem
• Give gushing thanks for the feedback
• At least somebody is readin...
Problems with the system
• List the problems fixed
– Be specific
• Apologize for the inconvenience
– Express thanks for th...
The “I” Message
• State how you feel (the message relationship
or meaning)
– “I feel _________________________.
• State th...
True Confessions
• I’m a screw up survivor!
• I learned!
• I made amends for the
whole organization.
– Admit we caused a p...
9-1-1 Dispatch
• What’s the worst thing a phone system can
do?
– Call the cops
– Scare the callers
– Upset the dispatcher
...
9-1-1 Dispatch
• What’s the worst thing a phone system can
do?
– Call the cops
– Scare the callers
– Upset the dispatcher
...
Who moved my cheese?
• Who moved my cheese?
– Give the stretchy mice and cheese to clients and
teammates when you've chang...
Who moved my cheese?
• Who moved my cheese?
– Give the stretchy mice and cheese to clients and
teammates when you've chang...
When pigs fly
• I dropped the ball on a project and a teammate
covered for me
• Flying pig
– Give the flying pig to client...
Roses are red
• Documentation gets in the way of
development
– When I found software bugs, nobody was happy
about it
– My ...
Roses are red
• Rose above it
– Give the solar rose toy when a teammate has
persevered through a tough season.
– This work...
Metamorphosis
• I changed the plan
– Redo everything
– Same deadline
• Butterfly
– Give the butterfly solar toy
when a pro...
Slay the dragon
• I love my teammates
• Dragon
– Give the dragon squeeze
toy when someone helps
you work through a
particu...
Slay the dragon
• Dragon
– Give the dragon squeeze toy
when someone helps you
work through a particularly
tough situation,...
I’m sorry. Here’s proof.
• People love a heartfelt apology
• People love toys
– By combining the two, Technical Communicat...
Connect with me
• Bio
http://wdcb.stcwdc.org/about-us/chapter-bios/dill-bio/
• Blog
https://viquidill.wordpress.com/
• Ema...
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Saying Thank You. Saying I'm Sorry. When #TechComm goes all wrong

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Did you ever make a big public mistake?
What did you do to make it right?

This presentation looks at mistakes I have made in Technical Communication and what I did to

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Saying Thank You. Saying I'm Sorry. When #TechComm goes all wrong

  1. 1. Saying Thank You. Saying I'm Sorry. When #TechComm goes all wrong Viqui Dill TechComm Leader at American Woodmark 6/19/2015 1| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  2. 2. Icebreaker • Who is this? What did she do? • Did you ever make a big public mistake? What did you do to make it right? http://www.ted.com/talks/monica_lewinsky_the_price_of_shame 6/19/2015 2| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  3. 3. Tech rules our lives • Tech rules our lives • Tech can be big • Tech can be fragile – When technical things go wrong, they often go wrong in big, public ways – System users deserve an apology – System users deserve a sincere gesture of thanks for risking a continued relationship 6/19/2015 3| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  4. 4. Hooray for #TechComm • The voice of a technical organization – Training: “I’m sorry it’s hard to do right.” – Online help: “I’m sorry it’s confusing.” – Release notes: “I’m sorry it was broken.” 6/19/2015 4| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  5. 5. Problems with the doc? • Promptly correct the problem • Give gushing thanks for the feedback • At least somebody is reading it – 1 troll = 99 non-trolls 6/19/2015 | @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 | 5
  6. 6. Problems with the system • List the problems fixed – Be specific • Apologize for the inconvenience – Express thanks for the business relationship 6/19/2015 6| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  7. 7. The “I” Message • State how you feel (the message relationship or meaning) – “I feel _________________________. • State the content of your message – because _______________________ – which resulted in ________________________. – What I want is __________________________.” http://americanwoodmark.com/ 6/19/2015 | @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 | 7
  8. 8. True Confessions • I’m a screw up survivor! • I learned! • I made amends for the whole organization. – Admit we caused a problem – Thank the folks for their patience with us while we worked out a solution – Give a concrete token of our appreciation, and make it an awesome stress-relief toy! 6/19/2015 8| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 | https://viquidill.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/thank-you-note/
  9. 9. 9-1-1 Dispatch • What’s the worst thing a phone system can do? – Call the cops – Scare the callers – Upset the dispatcher • My job: check up on 368 phone users – Acknowledge the problem – Thank them for their patience – Win back their trust 6/19/2015 9| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  10. 10. 9-1-1 Dispatch • What’s the worst thing a phone system can do? – Call the cops – Scare the callers – Upset the dispatcher • My job: check up on 368 phone users – Acknowledge the problem – Thank them for their patience – Win back their trust 6/19/2015 10| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  11. 11. Who moved my cheese? • Who moved my cheese? – Give the stretchy mice and cheese to clients and teammates when you've changed processes, interfaces, or objectives over and over. – Thank them for being like the second mouse who didn't freak out when the cheese moved. – Make it public! http://www.officeplayground.com/Stretchy-Mice-and-Cheese-P279.aspx 6/19/2015 11| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  12. 12. Who moved my cheese? • Who moved my cheese? – Give the stretchy mice and cheese to clients and teammates when you've changed processes, interfaces, or objectives over and over. – Thank them for being like the second mouse who didn't freak out when the cheese moved. – Make it public! http://www.officeplayground.com/Stretchy-Mice-and-Cheese-P279.aspx 6/19/2015 12| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  13. 13. When pigs fly • I dropped the ball on a project and a teammate covered for me • Flying pig – Give the flying pig to clients and teammates who are especially committed, even in times of conflict. – Tell the Agile story about the pig and the chicken. http://www.officeplayground.com/Slingshot-Flying-Pig-P1200.aspx http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chicken_and_the_Pig 6/19/2015 13| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  14. 14. Roses are red • Documentation gets in the way of development – When I found software bugs, nobody was happy about it – My test data was overwritten • Rose above it – Give the solar rose toy when a teammate has persevered through a tough season. http://www.officeplayground.com/Solar-Dancing-Flower-Rose-P2362.aspx 6/19/2015 14| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  15. 15. Roses are red • Rose above it – Give the solar rose toy when a teammate has persevered through a tough season. – This works great when someone is willing to come to work when they're sick with something non- contagious like stress related migraines or digestive trouble. http://www.officeplayground.com/Solar-Dancing-Flower-Rose-P2362.aspx 6/19/2015 15| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  16. 16. Metamorphosis • I changed the plan – Redo everything – Same deadline • Butterfly – Give the butterfly solar toy when a project starts out ugly and then turns beautiful after a dormant season. http://www.officeplayground.com/Solar-Power-Motion- Toy-Dancing-Butterfly-P6066.aspx 6/19/2015 16| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  17. 17. Slay the dragon • I love my teammates • Dragon – Give the dragon squeeze toy when someone helps you work through a particularly tough situation, like slaying a dragon. http://www.officeplayground.com/Poppin- Peepers-Dragon-P5741.aspx 6/19/2015 17| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  18. 18. Slay the dragon • Dragon – Give the dragon squeeze toy when someone helps you work through a particularly tough situation, like slaying a dragon. – Users who are willing to participate in early usability or beta tests will appreciate the metaphor. http://www.officeplayground.com/Poppin- Peepers-Dragon-P5741.aspx 6/19/2015 18| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  19. 19. I’m sorry. Here’s proof. • People love a heartfelt apology • People love toys – By combining the two, Technical Communicators will be able to rebuild relationships with customers in a concrete, humorous way 6/19/2015 19| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |
  20. 20. Connect with me • Bio http://wdcb.stcwdc.org/about-us/chapter-bios/dill-bio/ • Blog https://viquidill.wordpress.com/ • Email social_media@stcwdc.org • @viqui_dill https://twitter.com/viqui_dill • Linked In http://www.linkedin.com/pub/viqui-dill • Facebook https://www.facebook.com/viqui.dill 6/19/2015 20| @viqui_dill | Saying Thank You. Saying I’m Sorry. | #TechComm #STC15 |

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