Why chocolate is essential to agile tech writing

My favourite principle in the Agile Manifesto is that you get good people, put them in a good environment and then trust them to do a good job.

A “good environment” — that’s where chocolate comes into it.

At the office we have cupboards full of the stuff. Undeterred by such abundance, the Technical Writing team also goes on regular “doc hot choc” outings. We usually go to our local Lindt CafĂ©. Sometimes we even allow one or two hangers on, like a developer who has written a Confluence plugin just for us.

“We have come to value chocolate over extensive verbal compliments.” ;)

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About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 3 February 2009, in atlassian, technical writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I can confirm that chocolate is a key part of any good team (although there does seem to be a higher dependency in Agile teams!).

    And I’m so very very jealous you have a Lindt Cafe near you, didn’t even know such things existed (but ohh how I love their chocolate!)

  2. Chocolate is essential to all forms of writing. And working. And playing. A few jobs back, my employer provided (among other things) free packets of M&Ms. It’s a wonder I didn’t gain 15 kilos while working there …

  3. Hot choc incentives can work wonders for developer co-operation. They seem so much more motivated to fix problems for us!

  4. So true! Our team has a “treat table” (a lateral file, actually) that almost always has some kind of goody. Chocolate is prominent. We also love Chicago Mix.

    It really does boost our connectedness, and gives us our own little ‘water cooler’. I think the sugar (and serotonin effect of some treats) helps bring one’s energy level back up!

  5. Hah, tamwriting, I love it — the “treat table effect” replacing the water cooler effect.

    Tech writer A: “Mmmm, this choc is yummy. Did you know that product X is about to release an emergency patch for an XSS bug?”

    Tech writer B: “These crunchy ones are even yummier. No, I hadn’t heard that. I wonder if the XSS bug affects product Y too. I’ll raise it at the dev team standup this morning. Have you tried the yellow ones? They’ve got a gooey centre.”

  6. I’ve known several tech writers who have quit after their firms implemented agile. They were forced to work effectively unlimited overtime to get the docs finished in their sprints. Managers used a “just refactor the docs later” as a phrase that apparently has magical properties but in fact meant, “do more overtime.”

    My own company is planning on implementing agile and I can say I’m not looking forward to it.

    How does chocolate fit in here again?

    • Hallo Thomas

      Heh, I know what you mean. Agile can be daunting. But in some ways things are easier too, especially if you can become very involved with the development team, taking part in their standups and following the story development closely.

      Have you had a chance to read some of the blog posts by other agile tech writers yet? A while ago, I wrote a couple of introductory posts:
      Agile tech writer
      Agile tech writer II

      Clever Hamster has some awesome posts. And have you seen The Agile Technical Writer’s blog?

      Good luck. The chocolate is just the cherry on the top. ;)

      Cheers
      Sarah

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