Let the Author be the Hero: What Managers could learn from Editors – Part II of III

In Part I of this article, I explored some of the strategies I have used to try to stay firmly in the reviewer role and out of the “re-writing” role.

Notwithstanding that I have learned a few things, I still feel like I am missing out on some of the language I need to help analysts keep the ownership of their work and learn skills to make their work more adapted to audience rather than trying to extrapolate from my suggested changes.

So, I am exploring the language and skills of editors to improve my written review skills.   While the jobs aren’t perfectly analogous, I find value in how editors approach their work.  Based on a few key texts and a workshop that I attended on editing by the Editors Association of Canada, here is what I have gleaned which relates to the types of reviewing that editors do which may also support managers.

Editors have a few different review matrixes that may support feedback language instead of grouping all feedback into “edits or changes.”

Developmental editing – most often when an editor brings the idea to the author believing that they are best for the job.  In this case the process is iterative at an early stage of the process and the author would likely present early texts for the editors to see if they are on the right track. I link this analogy in the policy setting  – executives often “pitch” the idea back to analysts for them to develop.  Analysts would then take the idea and run with it supporting the collaborative process with an outline or early draft as needed.  Where this process can break down, is that analysts reluctantly give an early draft that is hacked to bits.  This is breaking the bargain.   An early draft should beget commensurate early feedback – along the lines that this is generally going in the right direction just make you hit “X” and “Y” under considerations etc.

Structural editing: Suggestions that support the smooth flow of the document. This seems an easy one to co-opt for other types of written review. For example, I often mark when I need to see similar ideas grouped together.  I have also been known to conduct a very brief “reverse outline” on a separate piece of paper to suggest a flow for the document that may help the reader with an explanation of why it might work.

Stylistic editing: Adapting the style of the document for the audience.  Many first cut documents are too long and technical and need to be crunched down and simplified to the essential elements for a more generalist audience.

In Part III, I’ll explore some overarching ideas on how to stay in the reviewer role.

Photo credit: Dread Pirate Jeff / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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