Week 6 response -team work makes the (writing)dream work

From a personal standpoint, I found Ann M. Blakeslee’s and Gerald J. Savage’s chapter on what technical communicators need to know about writing very informative and insightful. In other words, it helped break everything down; even the introduction to the chapter itself gave a sort of synopsis of what it involved in the field of technical communication and the many different things that can effect what and how the work is being done (fro example, the organization or company one works for, the specific project at hand, even down to personal preferences and styles of working (362)). One thin in particular they mention is expectation of technical communicator employers and how or in what way their duties are explained through the job description, which can strongly relate to our definitional project and the different things we all found when it comes to what it is technical communicators do and are expected to do. By way of example, I signed up to Indeed.com (in hopes of finding a somewhat permanent job after this Masters and letting me stay in the States!) and put into the search category “writer.” That was several weeks ago and today, I am still receiving emails about the various jobs in North Carolina that have the fundamental aspect of writing. Interestingly, the job titles and job descriptions come in many different shapes and forms, for example Digital Content Editor, Internet Marketing Specialist, Communications Specialist, Associate Technical Writer, and perhaps most audience-centered, Client Service Coordinator among others. Although most of these job titles do not contain the word “writer,” if we look at the descriptions of each, it is evident that writing is perhaps the most focal skill requirement for all. Irrefutably, this can allude to what Blakeslee and Savage refer to on page 364, “writing may be the one competency that really binds together the array of practices we call technical communication.”

 

What’s more, I think it’s worth noting on the centrality of the idea on teamwork within the technical communicating world. Some of our readings before have said that before this field was recognized and respected as a profession in itself (maybe in nineteenth century or early twentieth century?), many technical communicators therefore worked in isolated situations, making informed decisions and carrying out the writing practice independently. Whereas now, given the advancement in technologies and variations of workplace contexts, many technical communicators (especially those with little experience, as we see in the book example of Siena) are integrated into a team of technical communicators with an emphasis on patience, flexibility, interpersonal and communication skills, and above all teamwork. In this way, Blakesee and Savage note that is is very common as “writers…work in teams to develop lager documents that are assembled and disseminated in different ways” (368).

When I read this and thought more about it, being the avid sports fan and advocate I am, I immediately thought about the parallelism between this set up and on the field/court/track in terms of a sport set up. In a sense, sports teams work together to achieve that one goal of winning or to succeed. To do this as best they can they must determine different play strategies and practices, evaluate or access their opponents (skill level, weak points, high points, etc.,), and execute and illuminate various skills accordingly in order to achieve this one objective – all through a collaborative effort. So, in retrospect, we can use this analogy to help illustrate or shed light on this idea that ‘team work makes the dream work.’ Further, Burnett, Cooper, and Welhausen also comment on the fundamentality of collaboration, suggesting that it is “important because virtually all workplaces rely on group-based decision making and projects [which in effect] increase creativity, productivity, and the quality of both process and product” (454). Again, alluding to the sphere of sports, the elements found within the definition of collaboration, can be applied to that of sports team – interactions, people, goals, tools, setting, complexity, and perspectives (page 458-9) all arguably embody what is is involved in the work of a team. Most notably perhaps is the ability to identify our individual position, skill sets, and role within a team and be aware of the decisions we make or things we do (and how we do it) and subsequently how it effects the team and task ah hand in the long run as Burnett et. El suggest in their example of Cassandra’s case that “each member brought a different skill set and therefore assumed a different project role with different responsibilities” (454) so as to accomplish the overall goal.

On a slight negative turn, Brunett et., al remark on the idea of social loafing and conflict in terms of cognition and learning within a workplace, signifying that teamwork is not always susceptible to positivity and productivity. I think in all aspects of our lives, be that as students, professors, writers, friends, mothers, brothers, human beings, it is important to be mindful of this as we see it popping up in different contexts every day. I do believe these are even more apparent within the workplace in terms of social loafing (not assuming fair share of work) and conflict (different ideas or approaches to different things which can ultimately go back to clash of personalities within the work environment). Once again, this stands true within the world sport – some players within a team may not give the same effort or establish their role as effectively and efficiently as possible as well as conflicts of interest among teammates and opponents.

On a more positive note however, chapter nineteen touches upon the understanding and awareness of leadership within a technical communication workplace which once again we can adopt to within a sporting situation in that “effective leaders encourage a unified effort, facilitate interaction, and encourage collaborators toward a common goal” (464). Personally, I’m a big fan of leadership and have much admiration for those who have the ability to adopt and foster it (in the workplace, in sports, in life). Albeit some may have to learn their way to leadership while others are simply innately gifted with it, I think we should as a people (with no stereotypes or discrimination to gender) should encourage and facilitate it in anyway we can, keeping in mind the different contextual implications leadership has in different settings.

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