Today we continue the discussion based on the poll question noted in the title above.
One of the options in the poll is, “Professional procedure writer training.” Will training help one become an effective procedure writer? My answer is yes, but probably not for the reasons you may suspect.
The effectiveness of training depends on the intent of the training. If the procedure writer training is offered to help one compensate for their lack of writing prowess, then the training will not be effective. You cannot instill the tools of the writing trade in a week-long seminar or even a semester course. That is where the 16 years spent learning the writing craft was supposed to do its work.
But training in procedure writing can be of great benefit if the intent is to provide an understanding of why procedures exist, how procedures complement other types of documents, how procedures integrate with the learning process, and how the structure of a procedure can help (or hinder) learning. This type of training would equip the writer to not only write well-organized and effective procedures, but would equip the writer to contribute to his or her organization an understanding of the potential that exists (but is rarely realized) in the organization’s documentation.
I should point out here that through my experiences in writing and training primarily in aerospace organizations, I have given this topic abundant thought, and out of my thought process have developed (partially, at least) a course for the procedure writer. In reality, it is not simply for the procedure writer, but for quality, engineering and safety personnel to learn a structure that not only provides procedure structure, but also provides guidance in how to determine what procedures actually need to be written.
This is a shameless plug for my procedure writing course (which I am in the process of completing and updating). While I am plugging my course, I should also let you know I am offering a copy of the text free of charge to anyone who writes and asks for it. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it along with my compliments.
Thanks, Tim James (Mr. Procedure)