Yesterday, at work, we all got a laminated, 8.5×11 "170 Imaging Approval Flow" card which contains lots of colorful charts and diagrams (complete with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back) outlining the CCM AP Review processing instructions when using the 170 MarkView™ viewer.
You're forgiven for not knowing what CCM, AP Review, or the 170 MarkView™ viewer is.
i'd note that this jargon loaded document forever preserved in plastic was distributed to every single employee in order to assist them in using the tool. Naturally, in a company full of engineers, not a lot of folks actually use the beast nor require the complicated "simplified instruction" card. This is probably due to the fact that the overwhelming population does not use the Accounts Payable system, are Cost Center Managers or even know how to get to the 170 MarkView™ viewer.
Instead folks are trying to figure out what to use the damn thing for. So far "lunch placemat" seems to be topping the list, followed by "flash card for MBA undergrads", "rubber band flack jacket", and "spoke card for a penny farthing".
To be fair, i understand why this was distributed. Those that run the system probably get what seems like endless questions from what seems like every single employee about how to use the system they've got. Publishing out these things costs far less than doing phone support when you don't really have the people to man the phones, and your "client base" don't think in terms of "viewing a PDF". Getting a few thousand of these made and stuffed into mailboxes works out to be the same as costing a day's worth of support, and why not? Doesn't everyone use this?
Well, actually, no.
The hardest part to keep in mind is that not everyone is you. Even though i wear t-shirts and hats emblazoned with my company's name, in San Jose (the Silicon Valley) mind you, i still get folks asking what my company does or if i'm one of the guys that makes that chocolate milk drink. Nothing like working for a multi-billion dollar media company that a fair lot of the population has never heard of.
As for the TPS-170 reports, i'm sure that someone will feel horribly insulted by those damn engineers, while we of the steadfast pocket-protectors will generally get our jollies. Hopefully, someone somewhere will remember that in the true scale of things, they are not even remotely the center of the universe, and said someone would learn that they should always make decisions that take that in mind, regardless of how obvious it may seem.
If i'm REALLY lucky, that lesson might even learned by a few giggling engineers.