Everytime I hear someone say “I have a great idea”, I am both curious about the idea as well as how the idea will be transformed into something intangible. Maybe it is incorrect on my part to qualify every idea in the tangible and intangible brackets, but when you have a decision to make to provide a quality experience it matters. Over the years I have come across ideas and wondered why they never failed to take off. In this post, I’ll mention approaches to make an idea work especially if you are working in an user experience or technical writing team.
1. Embrace change: Nobody likes to beat and come out of their comfortable zone. As a result learning new technologies could be a matter of interest but different in matters of execution. I distinctly remember couple of years earlier with the privatizaton of Telecom in India, a lot of Senior Telecom Officers recruited during the pre-computer era were put down to trainings and assignments. I could understand the agony that they went through to get back to classrooms, but when I meet couple of them now all of them say nice things that how technology has made their jobs easier and wish it were there earlier. Learning to embrace change is important here. If you get disturbed by the work that you have to do to execute an idea, then you can never make an idea work.
2. Develop a strategy: Having an idea needs a working strategy. The ultimate objective is selling your idea. Let us take an example of a DITA project. You could have a scenario that your company has piles of documentation with a lot of components getting repeated across multiple deliverables. Your idea is to implement a DITA based structured authoring process withing your organization. What can be your strategy? You can base your strategy where the tech pubs team can plan to release documents for a product in DITA as a pilot. You will employ all the necessary resuable strategies (conref, topicref, mapref and all) in all your DITA topics. Then once the company has given a go ahead to it, you can release the documents release by release in DITA formats according to their bandwidth and capability.
3. Back yourself: Be pragmatic and repeatable. And at the same time the ideas should talk about numbers. And it should be easy to measure and report and easy to gather consistently and frequently.
4. Always be open to questions: The management while are supportive of the ideas need to rationlize their decision making. I found myself in situations while introducing usability testing to an organization the department quizzed me on several rounds. Largely the questions revolved around cost and tools and also if one is able to deliver. Failing to realize that you’ll be up against certain tough questions and competitions can lead one to certain catastrope.
It is great to listen and appreciate when someone comes up with an idea. But it is equally important to ensure that ideas are replicated with stamps of rationality and data.
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