Ask Dave Taylor: Tech and Business


Management Gone Awry: So Many Tails, So Few Dogs...

I just turned in a commissioned article for a well-know magazine and was surprised to receive back an edited copy to proof that had all of my stylized text eliminated. Words I had deliberately put into bold or even had quoted were no longer any different from the prose around them. Given that my subject is of a technical bent, this was a definite problem.

When queried about the situation, the production editor informed me that their workflow starts with them stripping out all non-textual elements, pouring the text into an XML markup system, then applying standard styles based on their corporate style guidelines. Words that I wanted offset would always be lost because what I wanted to have highlighted and what they were able to highlight and keep highlighted throughout the production cycle were very different.

Once I stopped grinding my teeth in frustration, I recognized another instance of one of the greatest problems in modern business, a problem I call the tail wagging the dog.

If you've spent any time around any sort of company, even just a customer support department, you know exactly what I mean. It's when the accounting department determines what airlines you can use because the airline has a "better accounting backend" or when your expenditures have to be approved by someone in accounting who doesn't actually know your job, but has control over...