4 signs you are wasting your time as a technical communicator

wasteAre you creating content your users don’t want?
Are you creating content your users can’t use?
Are you creating content your users can’t find?
Are you creating content your users can’t understand?
That’s waste!


Want to eliminate waste and focus on value? Keep reading!

You could be spending your days creating nothing but garbage without ever knowing. When did you last make an effort to figure out what your users really want and need? You probably need to learn how to implement something called “Lean Thinking” in your life. Lean Thinking is a way of thinking and working that will help you define real value, and then create products that fulfill that value, all while relentlessly eliminating waste.
 By learning “Lean” you can become a lean mean value-maximizing topic creating machine! (Tweet this!)

How to get started with Lean Thinking

  1. Define value from your customer’s perspective. Ask yourself (or your customer!) what customers are willing to pay for, both in terms of the product you deliver, and the process steps required to make that product. Do your expert users really need step-by-step instructions, or would they rather just have the reference information up-front? Do your users really (indirectly) want to pay for the time you spent looking for e-mails this morning? Spend time thinking about and research your what your customers value! This is what you should deliver. Everything else is waste.
  2. Map out the steps you take to create that value. What happens first? Do you do research? Some writing? Do you have the content reviewed by an SME? Edited by someone? Map out all the steps you take. Use a whiteboard, or a just a piece of paper.
  3. Challenge all the steps that are non-value adding. Do you really need two reviews, or is there a way to get away with only one? Can you do parallel reviews instead of sequential to save time? Perhaps run a review meeting instead of sending e-mails?
  4. Make your work flow effortlessly. To help you spot problems in your workflow, and to ensure that you deliver value faster, you should implement one-piece flow and stop doing batch work. With batch work you’re constantly doing context switching, losing valuable time in the process. With single-piece flow you get more done in less time, and at the same time you deliver value faster. An added bonus is that you get a great sense of accomplishment, because instead of finishing 30 items at once after 14 days you might finish two items a day – providing daily motivation!
  5. Strive towards perfection. Never stop thinking of ways to improve your product or process. Your main job is of course to deliver value, but another part of your work is to improve your work, to ensure that you can deliver more value with less effort.

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