Technical Writers and Subject Matter Experts (SME)
Can you think of a better way of promoting a product, such as a bulletproof glass, other than by giving it to public and asking them to break it? While screaming “our product is better” does not really sound convincing, “Ok, come on, try to break the glass and get the money” sounds like a better and more interesting proposal.
The company (3M) was so sure of the strength of their glass that they placed a huge amount of cash (three million dollars) between panes of a bus stop and challenged people to break it.
Of course, they only had $500 on stake as only that much worth of real currency was stacked on the top and rest was fake.
People could only use their hand or foot to break the glass and a security guard was on duty to enforce this rule.
In essence, they were saying “If you can break it, you can take it”!
Now replace the word money with information and think about getting information from a SME. A subject-matter expert (SME) or domain expert is a person who is an authority in a particular area or topic.
Isn’t this scenario sounds familiar where the information exists in the mind of a SME and we need to break the virtual glass barrier between a writer and SME to deliver useful and accurate documentation?
Have you ever faced challenges in getting information from introvert SMEs that do not mix well with others? Most engineers (I’m one too) are introverts and do not openly provide information which we, the technical writers, often need. Just curious, how do you overcome this challenge at your work?