Streamlining Democracy: Mapping solutions for government policies and procedures

voting

As we celebrate President’s Day in the US this week I cannot help but think about how lucky we are to have the right to vote for our President here in the US. It is a right that many envy, worldwide. Every US President we have elected has been chosen by the people. People who come out, stand in line, and cast their vote.

Continue reading

Prepared for the Worst: Energy Emergency Documentation Can Save the Day

energy emergencyWatching the confusion caused by the Super Bowl power outage reminded me that we all need to be prepared to deal with unexpected interruptions to our electrical service. I was reminded of this again this weekend, when my lights went out as a blizzard blanketed New England with over two feet of snow.

Continue reading

3 Mistakes for Technical Communicators to Avoid

OopsGreen

 

2013 is well under way now, and it’s shaping up to be an exciting year for technical communicators. Judging by the constant buzz and the sheer volume of banter and bickering on the profession’s favorite discussion forums, this is a great time to be a writer. And the ever-growing amount of content that organizations need to capture and control offers a new Golden Age of opportunity for those with the skills and savvy.

But, as always, the pitfalls are still there. Here are three mistakes you'll want to avoid making during the coming months.

 

Continue reading

The Big Payoff - Managing Financial Regulatory Documentation

Goldcoins-horizontal

Did you follow the news stories from last week’s World Economic Forum? 2500 of the world’s top bankers and financial managers gathered in Davos, Switzerland, where they spent a lot of time discussing the challenges posed by increasing regulatory scrutiny. The big financial institutions are reluctantly bracing themselves to cope with more oversight.

I’m ambivalent about this. I hate the idea of being burdened with additional charges and fees, which is how some big financial services organizations will get consumers like me to pay their costs of compliance. But I like the other potential outcome, which is that the banks may be compelled to seek out ways to operate more efficiently.

Continue reading

Plain Language and Information Mapping: Clarifying the Connection

PL reflection

 

Interest in plain language is on the rise. Recent sessions of our Writing in Plain Language webinar have been very well attended, and not just by employees at federal agencies trying to implement the Plain Writing Act. Nowadays many attendees are from the private sector.

During the webinars, I’m often asked, “What’s the connection between Information Mapping and plain language?” It’s a good question, and my answer is, “They’re one and the same.”

Continue reading

Operating Efficiency: It’s Money In Your Pocket

moneyinpocket

Have you ever been surprised and delighted to find a long-forgotten twenty dollar bill in the pocket of an old coat? The good feeling was way out of proportion to the amount of money you found, wasn’t it? Serendipity is a wonderful thing. But twenty bucks is small change compared to the unexpected dividends that can result from improving your organization’s operating efficiency. Have you experienced that kind of serendipity?

Continue reading

To Map or Not to Map? That is the question…

to-Map-or-not-to-map

Champions of the Information Mapping® methodology often scorn the suggestion that any written material might not benefit from a good dose of the Method. We understand why. Learning to Map made your life a little crazy, didn’t it? You became allergic to unclear writing. You couldn’t look at a document without thinking about how you’d chunk and organize its content. Maybe you even decided to Map everything you write. We love your enthusiasm, but the truth is that not everything needs to be Mapped, or even should be.

Continue reading

3 Reasons Why You Absolutely Need to Improve Operating Efficiency in 2013

2013magnifyingglass

2013 will be here soon, and one way or another it’s going to be a memorable year. It probably won’t be an easy one. Organizations in most sectors face many uncertainties as they plan for the coming year. Here are three compelling reasons why you should be thinking now about ways to improve operating efficiency.

Continue reading

Is “increasing operating efficiency” just about cutting costs?

offwithheads

Remember when quality improvement and the quest for operational excellence were on everyone’s minds? Things have changed. Nowadays when managers talk about increasing operating efficiency it’s usually just code for “cutting costs.” All too often they accomplish this by eliminating jobs, curtailing customer service and raising the prices of goods and services, often with accompanying reductions in quality.

Continue reading

Illness and Death from Compounding Pharmacy’s Contaminated Drugs Highlight Need for Best Practices

pharmablog2

A few weeks ago I briefly posted this article about a deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis. It generated lots of reader interest. Sadly, the story of the outbreak is still making news, with additional reports of illnesses and deaths. It’s an important story, so here it is again, with a few updates, for those who may have missed it.

Continue reading