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Kilroy Revisions

April 9, 2012

Does anyone remember the “Kilroy was here” graffiti, or Chad or Smoe, Clem, Flywheel, Private Snoops, Overby, or Sapo Was Here that became popular as a way to tag where you had been.

The graffiti was placed on a handy wall as a proof that the place had been visited.  It is sort of like what animals do to mark their turf, but there was a peculiar anonymity to the sign leaving only the author to know who did it.

In business, we see a lot of revisions to plans and materials that have the same mark as this graffiti.  People make changes to documents and directions, not for meaningful corrections or improvements, but to indicate, mostly to themselves that they have been there.

I guess it is hard to pass through without marking your territory.  We are all tempted.  The hard part is not changing “the” to “a” but stopping yourself from doing it.  Changes that are distinctions but not differences are just rearranging the deck chairs for no good end.

Sure after making a change of no consequence, the changer has a feeling of participation.  And at the same time upsets the copywriter and removes responsibility from the writer.  If it happens often enough, the writers will have less commitment to their work, expecting you are going to change it anyway.

If you are managing the process, you want the best work.  Most of the time that does not mean there is a competition between the person who approves the work and the writer.  You should manage the process from above, not descend into the process.  Once you are into the process, it is your job… nobody else’s.

So, if you are approving the copy, kill your Kilroy.  You will be a better manager for it.

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