Today, I received a letter from a project leader in the mail. I chuckled and got a warm, fuzzy feeling. Here I was, thinking about the tenth and last law of collaborative writing—how important it is to recognize all collaborators and celebrate your collective achievement. Then a thank-you note arrives. (And I did not Photoshop that time stamp. That’s the real deal!)
Saying “thank you” is one of many ways to recognize contributions. It will not always be possible to credit contributors in the document or buy them chocolates. Not everyone will be able to attend the launch party. Somehow, though, find meaningful ways to recognize and thank everyone who helped bring the project to a conclusion. You want folks to feel good, and not just because there’s another project. First, there must be evaluation.
A 360-degree evaluation
Project successes: It’s time to look at what worked, what didn’t, what you can do better, and lessons learned. What did you know about the project before you started and what do you know now? Did anything surface that could be material for the next project?
Tools: Evaluate the tools, such as the style guide and glossary you developed for the project. Can they be used or adapted for other projects your organization will be doing? What was different about the way you captured the source information this time? Can that process be carried forward?
Team member successes: Each collaborator achieved something during this successful project. How will those successes be captured? What new challenge has the learning prepared the team member for? Writing skills and expertise can be specific to the project or applied to different kinds of projects. How has the writer advanced in skills and competency during the project?
Communication measurements: There are many ways to measure the communication impact of the document, for example, using qualitative and quantitative research. Objective measurement is advisable if there are tie-ins with products, markets, and consumers. Evaluation is one of the least expensive ways to bring learning to the organization because it can be done by everyone involved and requires no batteries, consultants, or contracts. It is part of any good collaborative venture.