Live from Congility: Human factors

Human factors: how to avoid a content strategy plane crash, by Julian Murfitt

Congility2014If you prepare well, disasters can be avoided.

  • 1 in 10,000,000 chance of a fatality by plane crash.
  • 26% of plane accidents in the last 10 years are caused by equipment failure
  • 57% of plane accidents in the last 10 years are caused by human factors
  • Assuming you have
    • A content strategy
    • A DITA implementation
    • You are less likely to fail
  • 70% of software project fail, due to
    • Inadequate requirements gathering¬†(human factors)
    • Failure to engage users/stakeholders (human factors)
    • Scope creep
    • Lack of adequate systems

What makes for a good disaster plan?

  • Compatible with human capabilities
  • Tolerates and recovers from human error
  • Makes use of the intelligence of the human brain
    • It needs to fit our mental model
    • If the mental model doesn’t fit the outside world, we don’t comprehend

DITA is a challenge

  • Moving to DITA is a metamorphosis, not a migration
  • DITA implementation is not a tool swap, it’s a different way of thinking

There are 3 types of long-term memory

  • Semantic memory
    • Recognition is easier than recall
    • We’ll recognize something once we’ve seen it before, but can’t necessarily call it up
    • The DITA Shell requires semantic memory
  • Episodic¬†memory
    • Episodic is about connecting things with stories
    • Learning fewer things in one session is easier – episodic memory is best when focused
    • When learning DITA, the same thing applies
  • Motor¬†memory
    • Four steps: Unconscious incompetence (don’t know what you don’t know)
    • Conscious incompetence (know what you don’t know)
    • Conscious competence (know what you know)
    • Unconscious competence (don’t know what you know)
    • Examples: using a mouse, driving a car

Think/feel/know: the team

  • Some people think through decisions, some feel their decisions, some just “know”
  • It’s important to know who on a team is each of these
  • As we’re learning DITA we need to learn new techniques, and take on new roles
  • Tech authors in DITA can be all sorts
    • Developers
    • Engineers
    • Journalists
    • Content strategists
    • Content marketers
  • We need to let people develop their roles and get a sense of ownership for their work
  • We also need specialists who can help the rest of the team
  • Need to train the team at the right time
    • Too early, and they won’t have context
    • Too late, and they won’t understand what they’re doing
    • DITA needs more than a course, it needs ongoing coaching

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