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The discipline of a profession (overview)

The discipline is the same for every profession:  To consistently identify, specify, design and deliver the right product for the right price.  What is different for every profession are the tools and techniques applied to each of those steps and how long it takes to acquire the starting point knowledge.  For example, a doctor has to study longer than an accountant and the range of tools a doctor uses is much larger than an accountant.  But for this overview, we will look only at the way the discipline of the profession applies to accountants, lawyers, doctors and technical communicators.

Consider the following table which summarises the activities for each step at the simplest level. (A document is any type of information product such as a printed document, a presentation, a film clip, a web page, a brochure, a manual and so on.)

Table 1 - Compares the discipline of several professions
Component Accountant Lawyer Doctor Technical
Communicator
Identify: An accounting
approach.
A defence. The disease. The real customer
and real purpose
of the document.
Specify: The desired
outcomes,
interim stages,
legal and
other pract
-ice require-
ments.
Defence
strategy.
Treatment
(could be
any combin-
ation of
drugs, physio-
therapy, rad-
iation and so on).
Content of the
document.
Design: Accounting
changes,
posting
sequences,
reports.
Scope and
structure
of questions
and argu-
ments.
Write referrals
and scripts.
Storyboard the
content.
Deliver: Implement
the accounting
changes and
postings.
Defend case
in court.
Administer
treatments -
drugs, physio,
radiation
and so on.
Write the
document.
Right
product
Solves
the account-
ing problem.
Client-
specific
defence.
Disease-
specific
treatment.
Fit for Purpose
document, chart
presentation
movie and
so on.
Right
price
Client can
afford it.
Client can
afford it.
Patient can
afford it.
Fits the 
budget.

 

Separate articles will give more detail about how each step applies to Technical Communicators.