[FM Discuss] hats off to scott nesbitt

adam adam at flossmanuals.net
Tue Nov 15 01:46:53 PST 2011


I just wanted to quickly highlight the amazing work Scott is doing with 
these 1 day update sprints. Scott wrote a great blog post about it (see 
below) and from this I wonder about a couple of things immediately:

* can we turn this into a template for FM 1 day events?
* can FM ORG (the foundation which is the base from which all the lang 
sites jump off) could put a small amount of $ towards making these 
events happen. Perhaps something like 100 euro for tea and biscuits etc 
per event and also back it up with some PR from Camille...

What do you guys think?

This is what he wrote about it:
(take from 
In this case, the sprint was to update the manual for Thunderbird. There 
were a number of changes to the software in the year or so since I was 
involved in writing the original manual. But due to a number of 
constraints — both personal and professional — I could only devote one 
day to the sprint.

Obviously, there was a bit of planning involved. I gathered together a 
group of participants (mostly in Toronto), found a venue, and working 
with the folks at Mozilla (who created Thunderbird) came up with a list 
of changes that needed to be made. That involved pinpointing the 
relevant changes and making a list.

Afterwards, I was mulling what made the sprint successful. Part of it 
was the planning. The process that I used was very helpful. And you can 
apply it to any group writing project.

Let’s take a closer look at what I did and how it worked.

Don’t just jump in

It’s easy enough to jump in and let the people involved in a project 
figure things out for themselves. Sometimes, that results in some very 
good work.

But it’s not always the most efficient way to proceed. And efficiency is 
something that’s important when you’re working with a group and are, 
especially, when you’re on a tight deadline.

For the sprint, I created a page on my wiki that listed:

     What needed to be added or changed
     Whether that content was new or an update
     Who was working on it

Here’s what the list looked like:

A sample list of topics

Obviously, I didn’t add details for the last point in that list until 
the day of the sprint. I also let people choose what they wanted to work 
on. Doing that helped keep the participants happy.
Going beyond a sprint

Not all collaborative writing projects are as intense as a book sprint. 
But you can use the framework I just described for any collaborative 
writing project.

If you’re starting from scratch, you can use your outline to build your 
list. How granular you go will depend on what you’re writing and, of 
course, how detailed you make your outline. My rule of thumb is to keep 
things to a second or third level heading at most.

Always remember, though, that your list is fluid. You and your 
collaborators might find yourselves adding, removing, or changing things 
on the fly.

Remember when I mentioned that I let the participants in the sprint I 
ran choose what they wanted to write? That helped motivate them — they 
found something that interested them, which made them more enthusiastic 
about what they were writing. However, if you run into conflicts then 
it’s up to you (or whoever’s running the project) to step in and have 
the final word.
Anything else?

If I could do anything differently, I would have added a column that 
listed the status of each item of work. The statuses would include:

     In Progress

Summing up

Planning is a key component of any writing project. When you’re 
collaborating with others, even just one other person, planning is even 
more essential. Having a plan keeps everyone focused. I’ve found that 
focus helps get the work done faster and more efficiently.



Adam Hyde
Founder, FLOSS Manuals
Project Manager, Booki
Book Sprint Facilitator
mobile :+ 49 177 4935122
identi.ca : @eset
booki.flossmanuals.net : @adam


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