by Liz Fraley

This month I wanted to find out if you have come to love or hate collaboration in any of it’s forms.  I’m a big experimenter which often means I’m a big collaborator.

In January’s TC Dojo, we had Karl Klashinsky do a session on Git, the open source software version control system. He mentioned something in passing that software developers take for granted but that technical writers resist: the idea of continuous commits. In other words, commit early and often.

For Techcomm folks, providing access to in-work content has been traditionally a difficult activity. Writers tend to wait until something is done before anyone sees it. We like to pretend to the outside world that our work “sprung complete from [our] mind into the repository in utter perfection with each concept fully thought out” (Seth Robertson).

I don’t know about you, but I never get things right the first time. For better or worse, I try things out on my team all the time. They tell me when I’ve got a dud, we discuss possible improvements and either improve it or move on. It’s a quick turnaround and allows us all to put the true, best effort, in front of our customers.

After all, the work we do for our customers and our companies isn’t about us. It only gets better after an editor has been through it or a peer has reviewed it. By taking advantage of continuous commits, we can take risks, try things out, ask for opinions and get feedback.

Entrepreneurs talk about this phenomenon as “failing early”. The faster you fail the faster you can reach perfection because you’ve already run through all the other possibilities that don’t work.

It was Thomas A. Edison who said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Like a good idea, good content is a collaborative effort. So, do you seek out feedback? Do you encourage peer review? How do you view collaboration? Where do you collaborate in your work and your life? Do you love it? Hate it? I want to know!

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