Roy Gilbert

A Better Approach to Group Editing

hbr.org

Summary. Track Changes and similar group-editing programs have revolutionized the editing process, and we can all be thankful for such advances in technology. But these programs don’t begin to address the dark side of group edits: rounds and rounds of disagreement,…

If your job involves writing, editing, reviewing, or approving documents, you’re probably very familiar with the painful process of group editing — when a large committee attempts to edit a single communication simultaneously. Acting with the noblest of intentions, the participants in a group edit — writers, editors, project managers, subject matter experts, and executives — traditionally use the “Track Changes” tool in Microsoft Word, often producing a document so bloodied with cross-outs, critiques, and new copy that it’s not only unrecognizable from the original draft, but virtually unreadable.

As one of my cat-loving colleagues likes to say, “Everybody has to pee on it.”

Track Changes and similar group-editing programs have revolutionized the editing process, and we should be thankful for those advances. But these programs don’t begin to address the dark side of group edits: rounds and rounds of disagreement, competing levels of expertise and authority, and excessive nitpicking that leave project managers ready to approve anything so long as it successfully moves the document out of review.

With so many stakeholders in the cattery, what can a project manager do to keep a massive editorial review from degenerating into a quagmire of inefficiency and frustration? See my 13 suggestions below to make group edits more efficient and productive — not […]

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