By Drs. Jackie Damrau and Liz Herman
The technical communication field is broad in many ways. Technical writing proliferates itself into many different roles in which we provide our expertise. These roles include business process management (BPM), knowledge management (KM), change management (CM), and business strategy. To excel in these areas as technical communicators requires us to adopt strategic thinking patterns. In this issue, we explore the concept of strategic thinking as it relates to you, the technical communicator.
Dr. Jackie Damrau teaches us to change our mindset from technical communicator to strategic thinker in her article “Strategic Thinking Models: An Overview in Knowledge Management, Business Process Management, and Technical Communication.” She defines and thoroughly explains BPM from the lens of knowledge management and technical communication and how BPM aligns with strategic thinking.
Continuing the sentiment of shifting mindsets, Theresa Daudier delves more deeply into KM and how it is used to advance strategic initiatives. In “Using Knowledge Management to Advance Strategic Initiatives,” Daudier shares how her focus on continuous improvement and a running list of ideas opens opportunities to share knowledge and rapidly improve organizational processes.
Rounding out the KM topic, Judith Glick-Smith writes about “Purpose-Driven Knowledge Management: The Foundation of Holistic Strategic Thinking.” Leveraging her expertise in the field, Glick-Smith shares stories from the many organizations for which she worked that serve as cautionary tales of KM initiatives gone wrong.
Stories are powerful according to Elizabeth Kuehn as evidenced in her article titled “Why Do We Do What We Do? Employing Stories to Share Organizational Knowledge and Culture.” Stories are powerful because they follow a similar structure, pack a punch, center around the characters, and have morals. Become a better storyteller yourself after reading Kuehn’s article.
In “A Technical Writer’s Roadmap to Your Company’s Successful Process Certification,” Marsha Blackburn and Erin Friday tackle the ever-present questions around software development and quality management system certifications and their value to organizations. Journey with them as they recount their experiences preparing for certification and learn how documentation and leadership support led them to success.
Speaking of success, Ken Schatzke gives content strategists and the broader technical communication community the down-low on business strategy and how to understand the organization’s current competitive environment while defining the strategic direction of a content team. He then includes an excellent discussion about prioritization of strategic content initiatives, understanding all too well that we technical communicators often have a lot of ideas.
Any strategic initiative starts with a solid business case and a solid change management plan. Alyssa Fox’s article gives you the information you need to write a business case that’s bulletproof. Using an enterprise-wide content strategy as the example proposal for the business case, Fox includes step-by-step details including a cost-benefit how-to that you should absolutely save and reference for your next business case. Michelle Gardner’s article lays out a change management plan that you can immediately put into practice. Besides a list of CM best practices, Gardner explains the distinct types of change, talks communication strategies, and elegantly ties it all back into strategic thinking, the essential theme of this issue.