A technical writer’s mission statement

I recently saw a thought-provoking article on cognitive overhead. It got me thinking about what we do as technical writers.

People learn by attaching a new idea to their existing context. The ability to help them do that is our killer skill. That’s the basis of the tutorials we write, for example: start from a known point and expand the reader’s knowledge.

Based on the above premise, here’s an idea for a technical writer’s mission statement:

Make complex goals achievable within our customer’s context

Originally I’d written “Make complex goals achievable within our reader’s context”. Then I thought the word “reader” may be too narrow, as we often create material in media other than the written word. Actually, that’s often the argument used for calling ourselves “technical communicators” rather than “technical writers”. But that’s another story.🙂 Anyway, I’m still leaning towards the earlier version of the mission statement:

Make complex goals achievable within our reader’s context

What do you think of these ideas for a mission statement?

After writing this article, I searched to see what other people have said on this topic. Here are some good posts:

 

About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 18 July 2015, in technical writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Hi Sarah. What about using ‘audience’s’ rather than ‘reader’s’ as a more suitable option?

  2. Hi, Sarah. This is great, and I’m really glad you started this conversation.

    My comment is too long to fit into the comments section, so I posted it to my blog instead. See what you think.

    • Hallo Larry

      Thanks for the reply post! Your mission statement is very good too. I’ll quote it here, for the benefit of other readers: “Our business is creating knowledge and making it available to people who need it.
      (More in Larry’s post.)

      In my mission statement, I really like the bit about “within our customer’s context”. (Or “within our audience’s context” as Colin suggested in a comment above.) It brings along the concept of audience analysis, and of giving people only and exactly what they need, based on their current situation. You have something similar with the words “to people who need it”.

      In your statement, I like the idea of tech writers “creating knowledge”. Someone else mentioned to me recently that she sees our role as “knowledge creation”. I think that’s an awesome description of what we do.

      Cheers
      Sarah

  3. Interesting post. Although I am not doing technical writing of late, here is how I would have summarized it:

    Deliver what the audience needs for the intended purpose, in the language that they understand, anywhere, anytime, anyhow

    • Hallo Vinish
      That’s a great mission statement. I particularly like “anywhere, anytime, anyhow”. It ties in well with the fact that our audience is constantly on the move, and constantly distracted.
      Cheers
      Sarah

  4. Hi Sarah, Great post! Thanks for your shout-out to my site.

    I like your mission statement, and the discussion it has evoked! We all have our own focus and emphasis on what it means to be a technical writer.

    My mission statement for what I do as a technical writer is “Bridging people and technology to help you do business.”

    Warmly,
    Karen

    • Hallo Karen

      Thanks for dropping by! I like your mission statement too. It’s short and punchy, and addresses the audience perfectly.

      You’re right about each of us having a particular focus on our role. Forging a mission statement helps us articulate that, and helps people know a little bit about our ideals.

      Cheers
      Sarah

  1. Pingback: Our #techcomm mission statement | Leading Technical Communication

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