The Longest Now

Work expands to fill the space provided
Tuesday April 03rd 2012, 12:22 am
Filed under: %a la mod,indescribable,Uncategorized

I had a very difficult meeting this past Friday. The first few hours were quite effective; the last six were not, and could have been accomplished in two, but expanded to fill ten minuets more than the maximum amount of time it was alloted. In the end, the related discussion was cut five minutes short (out of a ten-hour day) and felt rushed, and was even a bit incomplete, despite suffering from what was in essence too much time.

I bought a universal Belkin power adapter today, and it came with a compact body, ten adapter tips, and *two* tiny, 110-page 2″x2″ manuals. As there is nothing about the adapter that isn’t intuitive for me, I wondered what cuold possibly be in a manual beyond the contact information for getting repairs and spares, and a quick tech diagram.

It turned out that they were a User Manual and a Quick Start Guide, 9 or 16 pages long, with half of those pages only half full, and printed in multiple languages. Both contained roughly the same information… the quick start guide was longer and slower than the user manual. I cannot do it beter justice than to recap the table of contents.

[User Manual: 13 langs]
1. Cover page
2. Important: Safety Information (full pg, 9 points)
3. Using the Laptop Power Adapter (quarter pg)
4. Technical Specifications (half pg, 12 items)
5. Getting Connected (1/8 pg, 5 steps)
6. Troubleshooting (1/4 pg, 5 steps)
7. Information (1/3 pg, 3 notes)
8. Information (full pg, tech support #s for 24 countries)
9. End matter.

[Quick Start Guide: 6 langs]
1. Cover page
2. Introduction, registration, safety information (full)
3. Important Safety Information (half, 8 pts)
4. Product safety (full, 12 pts)
5. Product safety (2/3, pts 13-17)
6. Using the Laptop Power Adapter (1/4 pg)
7. Technical Specifications (half pg, 12 items)
8. Getting Connected (1/8 pg, 5 steps)
9. Troubleshooting (1/3 pg, 5 steps)
10. Information (full, 3 sections)
11. Information (1/4, 2 bullets)
12. Information (1/2 pg, 3 sections)
13. Information (full, 1 of 3 sections)
14. Information (full, 2-3 of 3 sections)
15. Information (full, 24 country support #s)
16. End matter.

English was the only language shared by the two polyglot manuals. The other 17 languages had no overlap.

I’m not sure what these have in common beyond the subject, but surely tehre is something.

2 Comments so far
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I think what irks you about both of these things is a lack of thoughtful design beforehand (how much time in production does time designing save?); conversely, I often feel that our meetings are overdesigned, and consequently was a bit happier with this one. But good meetings are also about process, not just output, and keeping everyone present in the room and a good flow going needs a better facilitator than we have at the moment; even if I was that good, and though I did my best I’m not, I certainly can’t multitask editing & notetaking with facilitation.

Comment by phoebe 04.07.12 @ 12:11 am

p.s. though the specifics are not your point here, re: this specific circumstance, I did write later that I thought this mtg was actually an improvement to half-group drafting out of the room and voting later as we did last year. I think keeping everyone in the room come hell or high water until finishing makes everyone more accountable to the outcome (maybe) and results in less stressful confusion later. We just need to make that time better managed, with better prep beforehand, and maybe take better care of ourselves too — breaks etc to help us all focus. And no, we shouldn’t feel like the burden of caring about certain aspects rests only with a few people.

Comment by phoebe 04.07.12 @ 12:21 am

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