Steven Greffenius

May 282017
 

Icon of a hand holding a flame, representing a hot lead

[Ed. note: Steve Greffenius is the manager of the Chapter’s job bank.]

From time to time writers discover job leads that look good. Nevertheless they can’t follow up on their own behalf, and they can’t think of any friends who need work. If this is the case with you, you can refer the hiring manager or recruiter to Steven Greffenius at the Chapter’s job bank, a members-only service to help fellow writers find good jobs and projects.

Attractive posts at the job bank have these qualities:

  • Local position or project
  • Local hiring manager or recruiter
  • Chapter members interested because they are qualified
  • Contact information to inquire with an individual

You can tell recruiters or hiring managers to contact me directly. Then they know exactly what the Chapter has published on their behalf. My email address is sgreffenius@gmail.com.

With each referral, you help our members — and the people who need a good writer.

About the Author

Steven Greffenius

Steven Greffenius, Chapter Secretary and past President of the Boston Chapter, is manager of the STC New England job bank. He is Principal at Puzzle Mountain Digital.

Apr 132016
 
Icon of man happy to have a job

Use the STC New England job bank to find and fill jobs. Job seekers find positions they are qualified for. Recruiters and hiring managers find qualified candidates. Anyone with a job to announce can post for free. Send announcements to sgreffenius@gmail.com, or contact me at LinkedIn. Only chapter members have access to the announcements. Consequently hiring managers know the inquiries they receive come from interested candidates.

For chapter members, here’s something you can do to support the job bank. If you receive a job notice through your network that you believe your colleagues would like to see, please forward it to me. Best notices for our members have these qualities:

  1. Hiring firm is located in New England, unless the work is defined as remote.
  2. Recruiter or hiring manager is familiar with the New England job market for writers, editors, and technical publishers.
  3. Technical communicators, broadly speaking, are qualified to do the work.
  4. Announcement contains specific information to enable members to judge whether they want to respond.
  5. Post ends with an invitation to contact a person, not fill out a form and submit a résumé at a job application site.

We are eager to make the chapter job bank a busy marketplace for our members, and for the region’s hiring managers. You can help your colleagues a lot this way!

About the Author

Steven Greffenius

Steven Greffenius, past President of the Boston Chapter, is manager of the STC New England job bank. He is Principal at Puzzle Mountain Digital.

 

Nov 302013
 
This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series 2013-14 Program Chronicles

Panelists (l-r) Steven Greffenius, Neil Perlin, Marguerite Krupp, and Steve Jong listen as Michael Burstein peers into the future.

At our October meeting, we took a look into the future with science fiction author Michael Burstein and a panel of creative and curious tech writers: Steven Greffenius, Steve Jong, Marguerite Krupp, and Neil Perlin. No stranger to technical communication, Michael knows our professional world well, because he is married to a tech writer and is a science textbook writer himself.

Burstein holds degrees in Physics (BS Harvard 1991 and MS Boston University ’93) but he doesn’t spend all his time trapped within Earth’s gravity-well. He was the John W. Campbell Best New Writer at the 1997 World Science Fiction Convention, and he has published many stories in Analog and elsewhere.

(Stephen Greffenius was one of four panelists at the October NE Chapter meeting that celebrated the 60th anniversary of the STC… which began in Boston. — Ed.)
Sixty years ago, Captain Grace Hopper of the United States Navy had just invented the compiler, a software package that enabled computers to understand natural programming languages like COBOL. Given the impact of this invention, you could say she was the foremost computer scientist of her time. Now machines and human beings could communicate with each other. Even so, no one in 1953 would have known that twenty-five years later, the beginnings of the Internet would take shape, nor would anyone in the 1970s predict the marriage of broadband Internet and mobile devices that we have now.

That’s the technical side of change: technology moves so fast that we’re modest about predicting five to ten years out, let alone sixty years. Now let’s look at the human side.

Grace Hopper was trained as a mathematician. She joined the WAVES as a reservist in World War II, and more than forty years later, in her eighties, she was still an active leader and mentor in her field. Meantime, in the 1970s, Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College to start Apple, and Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft. They each became technology leaders, as Grace Hopper had been. No matter what the pace of technological discovery, you don’t see change that affects people without technology leaders.

So why, in light of supercharged technical evolution, do the French say, “Plus ca change, plus c’est le meme chose?” The historians translate that as, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” We’ve all seen that at companies where we work: the company’s managers want to embrace the latest new thing because it’ll make the company a better place to work, because it’ll increase profits, or because it’ll make the company more competitive, whatever that means. There’s a rollout, lots of talk about how the new technology is going to solve our problems, make it easy to communicate, help us do our jobs. Getting people excited replaces real work.

Yet we know that real change in human organizations happens on a smaller scale: people improvise, they make small improvements with what’s in front of them. The pace of organizational change looks incremental for each individual, and most individuals like it that way. On the good side, those small steps build up fast, with positive effects for companies that recognize the value of incremental change out in the trenches. For companies that don’t manage change well, huge changes can occur in the marketplace that catch companies unawares, or stepping off the wrong foot. Ask people who worked at Digital Equipment Corporation, Polaroid, Kodak, or Research in Motion about how hard it is to make organizations change.



How change effects technical communications

So let’s take a look at how these processes of technological and organizational change affect our profession:

  • First, we know that the tools we use to create content, and to publish content, will continue to evolve, rapidly.
  • Second, we know that some organizations will adapt to these changes, and profit from them, more successfully than others.
  • Third, we know that leadership is a key factor in both types of changes – technological and organizational.

If you have people like Grace Hopper, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates around, you will see things happen. If you have leaders who, at bottom, don’t want things to change, you will see frustration and trouble. Leaders who, at bottom, don’t want things to change often see themselves as managers, not leaders. And they’re right, they are managers. Grace Hopper said, “You lead people, you manage things.” She added that if we could clear the administrators out of Washington, we’d be much better off.

Where does that leave us then? We know that to be a good leader, you have to know what you are doing. You have to be good at what you do. We, the people in this room, know the capabilities of our writing and publishing tools better than anyone else. Moreover, we know what processes work best with these tools. We’ve all felt some frustration when we see that organizational processes lag behind the tools technology has given us. We want to take full advantage of the technology, to become as effective and productive as possible. But organizations can be stubborn, sometimes stubbornly static. They may think they are changing. Nevertheless, we know we can ignore the truth, if the truth is too elusive or unpleasant. Organizations can do that, too. They may think they are changing right along, until they find it’s hard to make money, and they have to go out of business.

In the end, we’re the best leaders of change in our own field. We can’t know with certainty what the tech comm world will be like in sixty years, because we don’t know what leaders will emerge, or what they’ll do. When a leader shows us something is possible, we run with it. When we discover we can communicate with machines in a language both machines and people can understand, a revolution begins. A similar revolution is underway in the way we publish information. The designers and leaders among us ought to push for breakthroughs – breakthroughs that might have as much impact for communication as the compiler, the Internet, or the iPhone. We should think of ourselves as those leaders: wise, skillful people who can marry vision, people, and technology.