So, your office is working on a document. Let’s say it’s a newsletter. You’re working on a newsletter to talk to your clients about what you’ve been up to, what you’re going to be up to and what you’re offering them. The usual. The “newsletter team” consists of a person who generates some content and the person who puts all that content together and makes it look pretty. Great. So you put the newsletter together but because you work in a “normal” office it has to then get approved by some top of the food chain type executive who had very little input into what the content should be and how it should be arranged, but has to then approve the final product, which is obviously a REALLY great idea.
The boss (the person who didn’t come up with the initial ideas within the document and has no formal training in graphic design or email marketing but “has been doing this a long time”) comes up with an exhaustive list of edits, mostly very specific verbiage that they want to change, specific words or phrases that they think should be included. They also think that some things should be moved around a little, typically by less than 5 pixels, because “white space” and then they give it back to you, the designer, whose job it now is to make all those changes. In some cases, the remarks are hastily scratched marks that seem to say things like “mayonnaise” and “seventeen eleventy” but hey, that’s life. And so, with very little turnaround time, you get to make those edits, send them back to your boss (who asks why the hell you’re talking about mayonnaise and made up numbers) who then asks for additional changes, some of which are clarifications to the old changes and some are new, whimsical changes that they thought of last night while watching How To Get Away With Murder (which you think you should watch, if only for the ideas…).
Is this working? No? Why not?
Well, for starters, this is the same method I use for dealing with my child, and even he is sick of my bullshit. If there’s something that I want done a very specific way and I couldn’t possibly expect you to know WHAT they way is, I’ll do it myself. If I want the tone of a document to change or I want you to work on the KIND of words you use (NOT the specific words you use) then I will give you some direction and you can have at er. If I have time to scribble nonsense all over your work, I have time to just do the edits. First off, we live in a world RIFE with collaborative software, so why are you printing this off and marking on it, LIKE AN ANIMAL. Iterative software exists that allows you to see WHAT changes you’ve made, just in case they might have been wrong.
Second, it takes FAR less time to just go ahead and edit the document yourself. If you don’t know how to use the software required to edit a newsletter (a program typically named after the primates who are capable of using it, Mailchimp) then I suggest you learn. If you’re an executive or manager of a company that uses technology in some way and don’t know how to use a computer, learn.
Now for those saying, “if you don’t make them do it, they’ll never learn”, pipe down. You’re not wrong. But you sure as hell aren’t right. Ask yourself this, “does making them edit this document, as I’ve presented the edits, lead to a greater chance of them creating the document I would like them to create in the future?” If the answer is no, you’re being a lazy ass. If the answer is yes, then you’ve provided good feedback and reasonable guidance and you’ve just wasted your time reading this article.