April 6, 2009

Identifying Future Skills for Technical Communicators: An Action Plan

Posted in Work, Writing tagged , , , , at 4:22 PM by moxiemuse

Based on a technical article in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers journal, iexplore

Here are some notes I took from a future skills lecture sponsored by the Society for Technical Communication-Puget Sound Chapter:


Why do we need to identify future skills?

• Continuous technological advancements

• Evolution of technical communications means we need to adapt


What process did Boeing use to identify future skills?

 • Brainstorming*

• Analyze trends

    o Industry

    o Technological

• Consult journal articles

• Scrutinize organizational resources

    o Current skills

    o Customer requirements

    o Correlation of skills to requirements

• Work assignments

• Job descriptions

• Talk to our customers


Findings General

• Broaden expertise to include more business-related skills

• Manage contracted services

• Participate in service integration


• Want proactive partners skilled in leveraging information

• Don’t want support staff

The Ideal Communicator

• Possesses required skills to design, develop, and provide information

• Provides quick turnaround The Myth of Versatilists

• Success in IT will depend less on, say, development know-how or engineering savvy and more on a multilayered amalgam of business connections, strategic planning and marketing expertise.


How to continue to identify future skills

• Analyze current job descriptions and identify changing areas

• Analyze external drivers affecting a company’s goals and mission

• Determine current tools or technologies for acquiring and sharing future skills information

• Join professional organizations

• Attend conferences and seminars

• Adopt mentality of versatilists

• Join SIGs

• Develop a lifelong learning plan to stay abreast of rapid development

• Focus on training that emphasizes skills, not specific tools

• Remain nimble, adaptable, and responsive

*Brainstorming areas of future skills with a focus on processes/skills over tools

• Gestural design

• Animation and virtual 3D

• Editorial


 • Mobile development

• Adaptability

• Content management systems

• Collaboration processes

• Telecommuting

• Instructional videos

• Be catalyst for change and showing value added

• Presentation skills (know how to present projects/models for a changing environment)

• International standards and regulations

• Reuse/single sourcing • Localization and customization

• Interactive assistance


• Usability

• Entertaining documentation

• Podcasting/webinars/mobinars

• Miniaturization/robotics

• More need to 508 compliance (accessibility guidelines; more alt text is read by computers than people)

• Touch screens versus keyboards

• More reliance on professional associations to update a technical communicator’s skills

• Content analyst

• Functional analyst

• Project/performance manager

• Games (as a teaching tool)

• Speech recognition tools

• Social media technologies

• Multiplicity of common mechanisms (phone, PC, e-mail, twitter, SMS/MMS)

• Company reputation management

• Outsourcing (and understanding ROI & metrics)

• Self-management skills

• Thought leadership

• Learn how to target women, the very young, and the very old

March 31, 2009

Guiding principles: A summation

Posted in Philosophy tagged , , , , , at 3:40 AM by moxiemuse

Today, I am moved to jot down a few phrases that have caught my eye and imagination recently. I’ll keep adding to this list although for now, here are some that represent a flavor of my favorite guiding principles:

  • Arouse impulses of brilliance.
  • Be generous with praise, especially in public.
  • Play fair in the criticism department.
  • Use moxie whenever possible to create a win-win.
  • Seek out a good leader; a good manager is not the same thing.
  • To honor and reward personal growth for enlightened teamwork depends on the vitality of every member of the ‘family’, however you define family.
  • Mentor others.
  • The whole is more than the sum of its parts, but the whole must contain the parts, even the parts with warts.
  • Be instrumental in redefining corporate soul, thus linking purpose and people.
  • Embrace the workplace in your own genuine style.
  • The seeds of magic are found within your imagination and planted in your deeds.
  • Let gratitude and generosity underly your deeds and motives.
  • Embody the spirit of reconciliation even during your darkest moments.
  • By tapping into the profound wisdom of the heart, one can operate with greater internal resonance and less distortion, thereby bringing much greater innovation, creativity, and clarity into one’s home and work life.
  • Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.—Wayne Dyer
  • Constantly reassess.
  • Institutionalize innovation.
  • Let the best idea win.
  • Boundarylessness.
  • Stay close to the customer and even closer to the competition.
  • Schedule regular brainstorming sessions with yourself, your colleagues, and your family to encourage a growth attitude.
  • In perfect balance do all things live and thrive.
  • Magic is not from an external source, but from deep within.
  • People want to believe that their work is bigger than their jobs.
  • People live for the moment when the heart’s alive.—Dan Bishop, Institute of HeartMath
  • Energy + Thought + Action = Results—Lisa Niedermeyer
  • I AM in balance in mind, spirit, and body, every moment, bringing joy to me and all those I encounter.
  • Embark on a life quest to understand others through communication, silent and spoken, and to seek information through mental and spiritual processes.
  • That which is unique and worthwhile in us makes itself felt in flashes. If we do not know how to capture those flashes, we are without growth and without exhilaration.–Eric Hoffer, longshoreman-philosopher
  • Only from a place of bliss can one truly elevate the spirit of another.
  • Experience a full-on heart opening: swim with wild dolphins.