Making Collaborative Writing Decisions Virtually

Making Collaborative Writing Decisions Virtually

Alexia P. Idoura (Symantec Corporation, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-994-6.ch011
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When it comes to team decision making, people are more likely to carry out decisions they have helped make (Weisbord, 1987). However, some key decision-making differences in roles, processes, and tools between virtual and traditional writing teams exist. This chapter uses the experiences of Symantec in making decisions, such as the decision for purchasing a content management system (CMS), for how people can make decisions in virtual settings. In particular, this chapter examines how virtual writing teams move through the decision-making process: knowing who has authority, deciding how to decide, using the right decision-making model for a particular decision, doing the groundwork, sharing the information, evaluating the information and making the decision, capturing the decision in a place available to all, and following up on decisions and resulting actions. It also provides a list of tools that can help when making decisions virtually. Finally, keeping the audience—readers or product users—in mind throughout the decision-making process can assist with all of these tasks by keeping decision makers focused on those who most benefit or suffer from writing-based decisions.
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By definition, the writing process is about decision making—deciding on a topic, why it is important, who might be interested in it, how it will be used, how it should be organized, and what words to choose. Writers make, unmake, and remake decisions. It is not uncommon that writers second guess their decisions. A whole new set of decisions arises after a piece is reviewed—how to address reviewer comments, what to do if they are in conflict, and how to combine far-flung feedback, as suggested in Chapter 16. In workplace settings, decision-making becomes formalized as writers consider what tools to use, what style guidelines to follow, and how to gather review comments. The magnitude of the decisions escalates at the enterprise level when organizations investigate options for single sourcing, including whether or not to employ advanced single sourcing technology, such as managing content in a CMS. And at the point of purchase and implementation, the number of decisions seems to spiral out of control.

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