Our second model of writing process shows a group of writers working together to produce documents for the organization. On the surface it may seem that nothing is wrong with the writing shop model. One problem is that the shop may be just a collective of lone writers.
Other characteristics of a writing shop is that they develop proficiency in developing documents of a certain type for the organization. They tend to specialize in one perspective or way of looking at the organization.
The organization likes the writing shop because a lot of text is produced relatively quickly. It’s secure for intellectual property because the writers are generally in house or bound by agreements. They all use the same tools, and have accumulated a large database of documentation which they can reuse, recycle, and repurpose.
If you’re not counting on innovation and shared learning
As long as no other type of document is needed, this approach can be efficient. What if the documents are a little stale, if the world changes, and if the organization and its documents can’t adapt to the shift? When something new or different is needed, it is generally an emergency. We ofte find out too late that a new message was needed.
There is no real foundation in a writing shop for this kind of innovation. Writers focus on their expertise: writing. They hear about organizational change but don’t engage in it. The reasons for this objective stance probably have many different roots in the organizational culture, or the training that writers have.
Whether or not a document produced by a writing shop is approved, there is no guarantee that it will continue to meet the organization’s needs, commitments and goals in a dynamic environment. Any potential benefit to the organization is lost when the writing shop manages all text production. Silos are created and reinforced. Quality and evaluation measurements are difficult to put in place retroactively.
Let’s fix it
There are remedies for this situation. It may take some time, but adopting a collaborative model for writing projects can help. By using interdisciplinary teams to prepare documents, the organization will break down silos, encourage interdepartmental learning, and be at the forefront of innovation in its field. Staff engage in shared learning and understanding—of things like roles, responsibilities, risks, and rewards—will find the experience in a company they are dedicated to becomes rich and fulfilling, with opportunities for growth. Make this transition with your team’s help, and consult a facilitator.