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You Are Batman

I recently changed my computer's wallpaper. It used to be a picture of stars forming, photographed by the Hubble telescope. The desktop is now a deep black, with an imposing picture of Batman set off to the right. Not the camp Adam West Batman from the 1960s, but a serious Batman who is on a dangerous mission to protect Gotham city from deranged villains.

Aside: See my November 2007 blog post called "Not Everyone Can Be a Superhero".

I see this picture several times every day the thought crossed my mind that we, as Technical Writers, have what to learn from Batman. I'm not saying that the Caped Crusader is a perfect metaphor, but he does have what to teach us.

Batman is Focused
Whenever Batman is on a mission, he knows what his goal is and he goes after it. However, Batman does have an overview of the larger picture. Taking down a villain often has an effect on the rest of the city, the political landscape or for him, personally. So Batman is accutely aware of what he is supposed to do and what the repercussions of his actions are.

You are Focused
You are focused on whatever task you are working on. However, knowing how your output impacts the rest of the product, department or company makes you even more effective. Being aware of how you fit in to the grand scheme of things helps you to improve the quality of your work.

Batman Has Gadgets
Batman has a slew of gadgets at his disposal. Many of them were built by Alfred (the engineer), some were procured from the secret development labs of Wayne Enterprises, others he constructed himself. Batman knows his gadgets. He knows which ones he has, how to use them, what they can do and what they can't do.

You Have Gadgets
You are well trained in the tools you need to use in your job. You know what tools you have in your arsenal, which ones are good for which tasks, their advantages and limitations. Furthermore, you know what the products can and can't do, how to use them and how they can be improved. You may not have the same expertise as a developer or engineer, but you are technically minded and can easily learn whatever it is you need to know about the product or technology.

Batman Has a Batcave
Batman secrets himself in his Batcave, away from the attention of the rest of the world. His Batcave is his place to think, regroup, and plan his next move. However, he doesn't hide himself away in the Batcave forever. Batman is not afraid to take his tools, his skills, and his ideas into the world.

You Have a Batcave
Like everyone else in any other profession, you need time to think about the best way to solve the problem at hand. However, you know that thinking about the problem and weighing the options is only part of the task. There comes a time when you leave your comfort zone, plunge into the work, implement the solution or sell the idea. You are not afraid to fail - the people who never fail are the ones who never try.

Batman is Well Connected
For the most part (especially before Robin), Batman works autonomously. However, sometimes the information he needs is not readily available. He is a well connected superhero. He knows when he needs to consult and with whom. Whether it is Alfred, his engineer, or the Police Commissioner, he can get the information he needs, when he needs it.

You are Well Connected
You, as a Technical Writer, especially if you do not work in a team, are often expected to support a group, department or line. Perhaps you are the only writer in the company. Working independently is one of the realities. However, you know when you don't know something. Not only that, you know who does know and you know what to ask and how to ask it.

Batman is Confident
Batman exhudes confidence - his square jaw, manly gait and bulging muscles. He knows what he needs to do to get the job done, and nobody can stop him.

You are Confident
Others (especially non-English speakers) may try to correct your spelling or grammar, they may attempt to add periods to the end of bulleted points, they may tell you how to do your job. You are a confident, educated professional, so you are not afraid to assert yourself when appropriate.

Batman is Customer-Oriented
Batman doesn't confuse the good guys from the bad guys. He knows that the citizenry of Gotham City are prey for the evil villains and he does all he can to protect them.

You are Cusomer-Oriented
You understand your user-base. You know who they are, what they need in documentation or help, and you know what they want. This knowledge enables you create content that helps protect your users from failure and your company from lost profits.

Batman Has Skills
Batman's skills in hand-to-hand combat, aerial acrobatics and pain management are incredible. But he knows what he can do and he knows what he can't do. However, when a challenge presents itself that is seemingly out of his range of abilities, he is not afraid to try.

You Have Skills
The skills you need for your day-to-day activities as a technical writer may be top-notch. But when you are asked to go beyond that you are willing to push the boundaries. Because of this, you often find that the boundaries move with you. New skills helps to keep your job fresh, makes you a more valuable employee and even opens new doors for you at all stages of your career.

Batman Wears a Costume
In some ways, Batman is like all superheroes - he always saves the day, he is energetic, muscular and intelligent. However, he differentiates himself with his skills, his dress and his modus operandi. Also, when he isn't wearing a costume, Bruce Wayne still has his eyes open, looking for clues, hints and pieces of the puzzle to solve the mystery.

You Wear a Costume
You might share many similarities with your peers - you are well educated, experienced and knowledgeable - but you are also different. You bring something unique to the table that adds value to your position in the company. You learn skills that are outside the scope of your job description, but that are helpful in getting the job done. Also, when you are not at your job, you read blogs and articles either directly or indirectly associated with your industry. This broadens your knowledge and thus helps you think of solutions you might otherwise not have considered.

Batman is Reliable and Creative
Batman can always be depended upon to pull through. Although the countdown timer is ticking perilously close to zero, he never loses his cool under pressure. Batman is quick-thinking and creative when it comes to finding solutions to the impossible problem.

You are Reliable and Creative
Working towards a deadline can be nerve-racking, especially when the requirements keep changing, the developers keep updating the GUI and other projects get in the way. With a deadline looming, the situation may seem impossible. But nothing is impossible. You are reliable and dependable and you find creative solutions so that you can get the job done to satisfaction and by the deadline.

Oh, and Batman has a really cool car. No reason why you can't have one, too.

Comments are most welcome!
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  1. Cool. I never saw myself as Batman before. Now, where can I get a butler like Alfred and a cute roommate like Robin?

  2. I agree with sierradelta...I have never seen myself as Batman, but I definitely do now. This is a great post and a great analogy of our job as a technical writer.


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