Question: How can I tell if a simple-sounding request really is? Does everything REALLY need to go thru the Boss?
By-passing the management approval chain is purely a judgment call. Just ask yourself, “Do I feel lucky today?” and channel Clint Eastwood before you take dangerous risks like thinking on your own.
It’s most likely OK if:
- If you are the only writer who’s ever worked on the document in question.
- You are familiar with all related documentation that may contain this Thing or may be impacted by this Thing Change.
- You’ve been working on the documentation recently and it’s pretty fresh in your mind.
- You can whip it out super fast, including up-revving and re-posting in all relevant places.
- It’s clear that the requestor is also familiar with the documentation and already knows exactly what places need to change.
Here are two examples of when it’s OK to rush in vs. when you should not.
Vague and Poorly Researched: “Remove the ETL logo from page 8 of the Solution X Manual” and “remove the lock washer from all graphics in Solution X docs”. These 2 requests came from our Hardware Testing and Compliance groups within a day or so of each other, each with a requested 2-day turnaround. The driver was regulatory constraints, with a death penalty for showing a certification mark we weren’t entitled to use.
Neither requestor was aware of the other. I couldn’t tell if they were just different ways of asking for the same thing, or whether we really had 2 completely different issues on our hands. There were also text references to ETL in other places, which I only thought to look for because I’d done the original docs.
Well… we had only ETL Listed 2 older versions of core components, which weren’t even being sold anymore. The lock washer was more of a wild goose chase. As it turned out, we’d already made the fix and the Compliance group was working off an old version of the doc, even though some of them already knew where to find the latest versions of everything in one easy-to-use spot.
In both these cases, it took us a week to figure out which docs were even worth updating, and to talk over the requestor into our plan which was different from theirs.
Specific and Easily Handled: Changing an overlap specification from 13-14 inches to 12-14 inches on the Solution Y manual. There was only one spot anywhere that this overlap was mentioned. As it happened, I already knew that, and had silo’ed that piece of information on purpose. Mwahaha.