Fulfillment and change

Empire State Building at nightAt the beginning of the year, I reviewed the goals that I set for last year. The results were hugely disappointing. I hadn’t fulfilled any of them to the degree that I’d hoped. I had started making progress on a few of them, but I was never able to make enough progress to consider any of them a success.

I was in a career situation that wouldn’t allow me to succeed in the way that I wanted to. I was frustrated and looking for a change, and found an interesting opportunity.

But not as a technical writer.

Why I moved

I reported to 7 different people in 2014. My priorities and the goals that I was measured on changed seven times in a year. I feel like I spent more time building and re-building plans for myself and the team that I was trying to build than I spent creating content.

Most of the new bosses agreed that we needed to hire people for my team, but they saw it as a lower priority than other hires they needed to make. So my goals of building an effective team slipped further and further away.

I focused on my day-to-day work. This was good because it kept me busy, but bad because it meant that I wasn’t engaging in the strategic tasks that I really wanted to do, and which would be necessary for long-term success.

And then things happened

First, I was offered a management job. But I would be managing a training team and in charge of a profit center. Plus, I’d be working directly with customers in an organization that also included professional services and customer support.

When I decided to take that job, I got a call from the people who run Techwhirl, asking me to take over the User’s Advocate column. Which was ridiculous, because I’d be following two columnists who I admire, and working with a dauntingly talented group of people.

Just go read Alyssa Fox’s columns and tell me the thought of writing a column for the same site isn’t daunting.

What this means for My humble blog

I’ll be posting shorter columns here in an attempt to post more frequently. I started this blog to discuss my transition from technical writing to customer success, but that transition didn’t happen in the way that I expected. I didn’t start a customer success program, but I did adopt customer success practices.

Now I’m focusing on building a training organization. I’ll be applying my technical communications skills with a focus on elearning. We still need to deliver content to customers, but that’s a combination of in-person and web-based training, webinars, videos, and documentation (PDF handouts, knowledge base articles). Then I’ll be coordinating training logistics and measuring the effectiveness of our training programs to make sure that they’re serving the needs of our internal and external audience.

So most of the columns might be the words “SO VERY BUSY” over and over.

Doing new things

In some ways, this job is a new area for me. This is my first job without “technical writer” or “documentation” in the title since I started in this field 20 years ago.

In other ways, it’s very familiar. It’s user education, just with more formats. And offering a variety of learning formats is something I’ve advocated for the last few years. At least. I’ve planted my flag on this “give the customers what they want” hill, and this is the hill I’m willing to die on.

Well…maybe not “die.” That’s morbid. But I will argue very strongly in favor of it. In favor of…the hill. This sounded better in my head.

Hey! Speaking of new things (and not dying on hills), I visited New York! For work, but I spent the evenings walking around Manhattan. I’ve never been to New York before (just never had a reason).

If you’ve never been: it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect, but still bigger in real life. Big, loud, full of people, and pretty darn nifty.

I never really understood how Spider-Man could swing from building to building. I thought it was a typical comic book exaggeration. Until I got there and…yeah, now it makes sense.

Buildings in New York City

6 thoughts on “Fulfillment and change

  1. Wow, thanks for the compliment! Made my morning. 🙂

    I’ve enjoyed following your blog and tweets the last couple of years. I am so excited you are part of the Techwhirl family, and am looking forward to hearing about your experiences in the new job. You are going to rock this!

    1. Thanks! I really enjoyed your posts about writing in Agile, and your new management series is information that’s badly needed in the techcomm field.

    1. Thanks, Tom. I’ve been heads-down since March, and I had a moment of panic just now when I saw that you’re writing a similar series of posts!

      Now I have to work even harder to say something useful! 😉

      And I just realized that I didn’t even link to my own column…

  2. LOL – check in with you both each day – always have interesting perspectives to share. Looking forward to your Techwhirl posts as well.

  3. Found your blog after stumbled upon a translation of one of your older posts. And really glad I found it :). Congratulations on your new role! Elearning is a great field: structured content, interesting tools, plus you can be sure that the user actually gets to read what you’ve written.

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