How technical writing committees keep things moving

How many times have you seen great ideas fall through the cracks as higher priorities steal your team's attention? Technical writing teams have to juggle a lot of priorities, and sometimes we have to sacrifice improving our process in order to hit deadlines. However, letting those great ideas slip away permenantly can be a big mistake over the long run.

That's why committees are so great.

Committees allow managers to delegate tasks, such as research or testing, to a small group of writers. Those writers can schedule regular meetings, draft goals, and ensure that progress is made in spite of the day to day work that eats up most of our time and attention. The committee can then report findings back to the rest of the team.

The effectiveness of technical writing committees depends on a few key factors.

  • Deciding which long-term goals are worthy of a committee. Especially for small teams, prioritization is essential.
  • Choosing the right team members for the committee. Project management skills will be necessary to keep the committee on track, and domain expertise is essential for making educated decisions. A balance of personalities and skills is essential.
  • Establishing a process for tracking decisions and findings, and sharing that information with the rest of the team.
  • Assigning and tracking To Do items for committee members.
  • Choosing a chairperson to schedule future meetings and keep things moving.

I've recently been involved on multiple committees and have found them to be very effective. Usually such work grinds to a halt when deadlines loom. However, having a regular committee meeting allows for steady progress and decision making in spite of a busy workload.

So, does your team have a bunch of goals that you can never find time to pursue? Perhaps you need to form some committees.