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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Playing FEMA with outsourcing...Handling a content writing disaster...Inevitable imperfection and what it means to us...

Writers are notorious for blowing deadlines. Humorist Dave Barry (who, I must admit I don't find altogether humorous) said something like, "I love deadlines. I like the way they look when they fly by me."

Writers, however, aren't the only ones who goof. Buyers do, too.

This morning, I learned that a person who booked a sizeable article order messed up the due date and that they needed their material yesterday (literally). This was a large project and substantial portions of it are in the hands of my partner writers (which is my euphemism for subcontractors).

So, what had been a smoothly operating machine suddenly started lurching and bouncing this morning.

I like to think I am good at customer service. I take care of my buyers. I also like to believe I am good to partner writers. I pay fairly and am generally flexible. This particular instance put me in a unique situation.

At first glance, the only way to help the writers was to force the buyer to take actions contrary to his best interests. The only way to help the buyer would be to screw the writers.

Well, that was at first glance. Eventually, I think we worked out a healthy compromise. The buyer agreed to accept any work completed by tomorrow at an increased rate, which I was able to pass along to the writers. I then secured additional work for the writers who had already committed to the project to compensate for this project getting axed prematurely. I'm also planning on providing some additional compensation for the inconvenience.

I hope everyone walks away in a good mood.

I mention this situation because I think situations like this often end ugly. Clients become unyielding. Writers get equally stubborn. Instead of everyone recognizing that human error entered the equation, they become stuck on issues of fault and abandon pragmatism in the name of "principle" (assuming that principle works to their advantage).

I personally believe that everyone should understand that sometimes things just don't work out because of something we can't fix and couldn't avoid. We are all imperfect and the best thing we can do is to accept those imperfections and try to help each other along the way.

So, buyers, your writers won't always be flawless.
So, writers, your buyers won't always be perfect, either.
Occasionally, the unintended screw up will happen.

The disaster usually isn't in the mistake... It's usually a byproduct of the reaction.

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