At tonight’s STC chapter meeting, we had a “showdown” of sorts between the sometimes conflicting forces on a software development team. Robert (our chapter program manager) assembled a panel of 5: a business analyst turned product manager, another product manager, a QA/documentation manager, a project manager, and a development team manager. The panel took up the commonly debated questions of who is to blame for setbacks, defects, and failures in software development and then examined the role that the technical communicator can play in that meelee.
This was a great format for a chapter program because we all have confronted these questions in one way or another.
Robert interviewed the panelists ahead of time to get their thoughts on conflicts and tensions in development teams. Then he (diplomatically) threw their statements back at them in the midst of the panel discussion.
Notice that all of the speakers were in management. It would have been good to have a few guys from the trenches to take on the accusations and recriminations. “Are developers lazy?” is one that I would like to have seen fielded by a real developer, not a manager.
The panel had nothing but nice things to say about technical communicators. This is not the real world. I would have preferred to hear someone with a few bones to pick with us. While the best of us can provide real value on a development team, some of us (and sadly, you don’t know who you are) can be Tina-like in our behavior, driving everyone batty.
One point everyone agreed on was the importance of communication in teams. They weren’t primarily speaking of written communication either. It was people skills. This is the point I want to leave you with. Cultivate your people skills. If you are good at interacting with different types of people, you might take that for granted. But it is a rare and valued ability.