We frequently work with organizations on collaboratively produced documents, from annual reports to training manuals to white papers and more. Coauthorship for these kinds of projects is inevitable: Large or complicated documents almost always require the expertise and input of people from different organizational vantages.
It makes sense to produce these projects collaboratively, but it’s logistically challenging. Like so much in work (and life), careful, advanced planning and open, formalized communication offer the cure to almost any collaboration ailment. 
Just think, you could be part of a big team fist-bump like this! (Or not. It’s not really our thing either.)

Here are the most important things to consider:

1. Designate a project manager. Maybe you’ve already got a dedicated project manager—lucky you! If not, consider who’s likely to be the de facto project manager, and formalize that role. Contributors will bring different levels of commitment (ahem) to a project, and having one person whose focus is to see it all the way through (and who’s charged with the authority to do so) is crucial.

2. Clarify the division of labor. Now that you’ve got a project manager, make sure other collaborators’ tasks are clearly delineated. Organizational structure will determine some, but not all, roles. Other factors to consider include team members’ facility with writing and their availability at key points in the project. Crystal clarity regarding project-specific roles makes it easier for colleagues to get on board, and to execute what’s expected.
3. Make sure the project goals and timeline are clear from the start. This big-picture plan—the macro-view to complement the micro-view of individual roles—is crucial to ensure that collaborators understand the importance of their (timely) contributions. No one wants to be the wrench in the delicately balanced project machinery on which their colleagues depend. Determine the optimal workflow for your project, and make sure that it’s communicated to everyone involved.

4. Make use of technology. Start with your project timeline: there are many tools available to help you create the sort of detailed timeline you need to track tasks, milestones, and project dependencies. And when it comes to creating and polishing content, determine how to best harness your organization’s file sharing or collaboration tools—or which to introduce—and get your team on board with using them.
5. Use an editors’ trick of the trade and create a style sheet for all of your collaborators to follow. If your organization already has one, all the better! This upfront time investment will ultimately—and exponentially—simplify the process of collating individually authored sections. Once the your content is complete, consider designating the most experienced writer (who may or may not be the project manager) as the document’s ultimate editor—or, better yet, hire an expert who can suss out inconsistencies and correlate usage, house style, organization, and more.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
by John Carreyrou

​If you haven’t followed the story of rogue startup founder Elizabeth Holmes, you won’t regret time spent googling. Holmes was a darling of Silicon Valley, propelled to media stardom (and billionaire status) in short order after the launch of Theranos, which offered seemingly game-changing blood testing technology. The Theranos device, with which the company claimed to be able to use just one drop of blood to obtain results for hundreds of tests, was long on inspired promises and appallingly short on results. Simply put, it was an utter failure. 
Nonetheless, Holmes successfully cultivated a cast of supporters including giants from industry, finance, and politics. Theranos negotiated multi-million-dollar deals with Walgreens and Safeway, and saw interest from the U.S. military—all based on the smoke screens that Holmes and her boyfriend/COO (that’s right) Sunny Balwani created.
In Bad Blood, John Carreyrou, the Wall Street Journalinvestigative journalist who broke the story, pieces together the company’s rise and details its fall. Carreyrou offers a fascinating glimpse into the ugliness of Silicon Valley, where ethical and financial recklessness (to the point of criminality) is enabled by the cult-of-personality mystique that surrounds successful founders. 
What’s not clear from Carreyrou’s exacting reportage is HOW IN THE HELL Holmes was able to take in so many people (and their many millions of dollars). Her device neverworked. Her grasp of the science behind her own technology, as many former employees report, was tenuous at best. The lies and false evidence used to promote the company—which was unable to deliver on any of its promises—were flimsy to the point of laughability. And yet tech gurus, billionaire venture capitalists, and world leaders were utterly fleeced
Carreyrou tells a fascinating story, and his reportage shines is in the latter third of the book, when he details his own investigation and the subsequent undoing of the company (in the wake of the book’s publication, Theranos announcedthat it would dissolve after Holmes was indicted for fraud). But the story is missing certain pieces—namely, Holmes herself. The book’s insight into Holmes doesn’t go much further than the image that she strove to perpetuate, though her worship of Steve Jobs, down to her adoption of his signature sartorial style, comes across as almost childlike. Holmes and Balwani (who seems to be just as obvious a charlatan) remain complete ciphers throughout the telling.
This lack is perhaps expected, given that Holmes refused every request Carreyrou made for interviews or access of any sort. It’s a work of investigative journalism after all, so there’s no room for speculation or creative filling-in-the-blanks.
Nonetheless, the story of howshe was able to build the empire she did on so flimsy a technological pretense is what’s missing. It clearly depended on the force of her personality; but in Carreyrou’s rendering, Holmes comes across as little more than an egomaniacal, ruthless bully. And whatever deep passion that motivated her blind (and seemingly sociopathic) promotion of herself and her company goes unexplored and unexplained, as does her willingness to literally put lives at risk with her fake device. Novel addict that I am, I wanted more of the latent narrative about Holmes the person. I guess I’ll have to wait for the Netflix version of the Theranos story for that.



As longtime users of MS Word, we experienced some real pain when we began migrating to Google Docs.
We’re not complete luddites, though, so we put in our hours, and we now embrace Google Docs with open (if slightly enervated) arms, at least for simply formatted, collaboratively edited docs.
If you want an easy interface and straightforward formatting, or if you’re co-authoring or co-editing a document (ideally, with just a small group of other writers/editors), Google Docs is pretty great.
Docs benefits include:

  • Multiple device use: Open your doc anywhere, on any device
  • Interoperability: Open any kind of doc anywhere, on any device
  • Collaboration: Easily write and edit with others in real time (best ever for remote, [small] team-driven projects)
  • Simple writing, editing, and formatting interface: Work without Word’s (so-called) distracting toolbar options

However, if you’re a macro-loving editor working with multiple versions of densely commented and edited docs, Word is still going to be your project’s best friend.
Why? Because Docs doesn’t support macros, doesn’t have enough easy-to-access and finely-tuned formatting options, and doesn’t seamlessly integrate (and, crucially, dis-integrate) multiple comments.
And in some cases what constitutes a Docs strength is also a weakness. The simple interface? Not enough formatting options! The revisions history? Absolutely (and automatically) complete but not always easy to access or to view. Further, when the history is viewed, the revisions are privileged, not the revisions within the document as a whole. This means it isn’t easy to decide which version of a particular paragraph is the strongest in situ.
Ironically, the revisions history can also reveal way too much information. Readers can see past prompts (like a fact-checking reminder you might have written to yourself) or comment-based discussions with other writers and/or co-editors (possibly awkward).
For some, the choice between Docs and Word will come down to comfort; for others, it’ll come down to price; and for still others, it’ll come down to convenience. For us, we like to have it all ways: Our heart is with Word, but we moonlight with Docs. 


As last week’s judicial committee hearings made very clear and very present, anger can be a very powerful tool of expression.

​It’s powerful when it rips the seams of expected rhetorical discourse; it’s powerful when it sears through the superficial niceties of extemporaneous speech. It’s powerful—sometimes even especially powerful—when it is expected and yet does not appear.

As a rhetorical tool, anger is as old as the Old Testament (Leviticus is often cited as a relevant example here, but so, too, is Genesis). Aristotle defined anger in Rhetoric as a compelling means of persuasion—a speaker (or writer) can provoke an audience’s angry response simply by identifying the state of mind conducive to the audience’s anger, grasping the object of the anger, and understanding the reason for the anger.
Jonathon Edwards flips this masterfully in the (slightly) more contemporary 1741 classic, Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God. His sermon, which ecstatically describes the hellfire and damnation awaiting his audience, is an ur-text for an orator’s hyper-controlled performative power. Among its unforgettable images is Edwards’ admonition that “the God that holds you over the Pit of Hell, much as one holds a Spider, or some loathsome Insect, over the Fire abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his Wrath towards you burns like Fire.”
Anger is often powerful in rhetoric because its expression flouts the rules of control that ensure social civility. And its evocation of danger, as Edwards’ sermon makes clear, prompts fear (another useful rhetorical tool). But anger’s persuasive power depends on an acknowledgement of the legitimacy of its expression. Edwards’ congregation must first acknowledge the validity of Edwards’ anger—and God’s—before they can be persuaded to feel afraid.
Of course, as Rebecca Traister argues, such acknowledgement is contingent on an audience that shares common ground with the speaker. When, for example, Kavanaugh expressed his outrage, it was deemed persuasive by those audience members with whom he most identified (and who most readily recognized their own anger—and perhaps their own fears—in Kavanaugh’s remarks). This is one of the reasons why so many powerful men in the room viewed Kavanaugh’s opening statement as persuasive, and why women like Amy Klobuchar and Traister and Kate Harding and Megan Garber (and me) saw it as an out-of-control, illegitimate appeal.
A perhaps more powerful instance of rhetorically persuasive anger is extemporaneous anger. This was the anger expressed by Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher in their confrontation with Jeff Flake. Its power is different from that exercised by Edwards or Kavanaugh because it depends on forcing identification and recognition where no basis for such identification exists. This is why, without any discernible common ground between Archila and Gallagher on the one side and Jeff Flake on the other, Archila insists that Flake look her in the eye. By her insistence she forces his recognition of the emotion that could push a person to engage in such an audacious social act.
But what of the persuasive power of the anger that remains unexpressed? Sometimes this is the anger that provokes the most powerful response of all. Christine Blasey Ford’s opening statement was, as so many women furiously and empathetically noted, calm, candid, and apologetic; in it, she admitted that she was “terrified.”
Why didn’t Ford use the anger that many women argued was rightfully hers to express? Perhaps she recognized that unlike Edwards, she was not facing an audience who viewed her as powerful and who would be convinced by her hyper-controlled, performative rage. Perhaps she knew that unlike Kavanaugh, she was not a member of a powerful elite quick to be provoked by threats to self-preservation and more readily convinced by an angry display. Perhaps she realized that unlike Archila she was not a silent survivor and could not have forced an identification through the pain and rage of an extemporaneous, previously undisclosed admission.
Or perhaps, to echo Traister, Ford simply recognized that she is a woman, and so she behaved as an angry woman is expected to behave.
In the days following Ford’s testimony, however, it has become clear that her absent anger  provoked a fiery and intense response. This is partly due to the fact that Ford, by rejecting anger’s rhetorical power, appealed not to her immediate audience (who, infuriatingly, seemed to accept her terror as tacit acceptance of her “appropriate” place), but to an audience that recognizes the legitimacy—and the urgency—of an anger that cannot be expressed.
Anger, after all, is not only a tool of persuasion. It is also sometimes the means for catharsis. Because Ford was disallowed anger’s expression, she—and by extension the women who recognized themselves in her silence—were disallowed the catharsis that Kavanaugh claimed. This doubled denial is one reason for their rage: There are simply too many women who haven’t yet been able to express, much less purge, their pain.