Terminology Tuesday: Statement of Work (SOW)


In the world of business, Statements of Work (SOWs) play a very important role in ensuring that you are doing the work you’ve been contracted to do. SOWs exist in most industries, and tend to kick off the project (unless preceded by a Request for Proposal or other similar preceding step).

What’s a SOW?

A SOW is a document that identifies the scope of work included in a particular contract, and typically includes the following elements:

  • Parties involved – The organization initiating the contract and the organization or individual(s) who will be completing the work
  • Details of work – A descriptive outline of all work involved within the contract, and in order to ‘complete’ the contract
  • Non-disclosure agreements – Acknowledgement that the contractor agrees to non-disclosure terms
  • Schedule – A schedule identifying delivery dates for the work contracted
  • Penalties – Penalties are outlined (e.g. for not completing the specified work within the specified timelines)
  • Signatures – Signatures of all parties involved

Why is a SOW Important?

A SOW is important because it can really save your butt as a contractor in terms of combatting scope creep. Signing a SOW protects you when it comes to additional project requests as you will have a signed document to reference when requests extend past the outlined scope of the project, and you can request additional compensation to complete such requests.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway (click the banner below)! There’s less than two weeks left to enter to win some fantastic e-learning prizes.


Screencast Monday: Personalization in Articulate Storyline – Part 2

Last week I showed you how to use button sets to select an avatar for your course, and this week I’m showing you how to carry the selected avatar throughout your course developed in Articulate Storyline.

There are different ways of doing this, but in this screencast, I show you how to use variables and states to achieve the desired effect.

Also – There’s less than two weeks left in the big giveaway, so don’t forget to enter to win this awesome Articulate Storyline package (click the banner below).


How IKEA Manuals Inspired My Interest in Technical Writing

Yesterday, all around e-learning superstar Zsolt Olah posted an article on LinkedIn titled Read Only If You Know What’s In The Picture. This article sparked an interesting revelation (for me and others who know me) on Twitter, and I’m a lady of my words. This blog post will explain how IKEA manuals inspired my interest in technical writing.

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Well before I knew that Instructional Design was a role that existed, I was working through my undergraduate degree with a double major in Linguistics and Psychology. My end goal was to go to grad school and become a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), but if that went south I had found an interest in technical writing…from my horrible experience with IKEA how-to manuals.

I joke that my husband and I never argue…unless we’re hanging something or putting together furniture, and it’s very true. When we bought our house, we had a friend come over for several weekends to mediate our furniture construction…or we probably would have killed each other.

In any event, my interest in technical writing came after a particularly trying IKEA order arrived. We ordered two desks, a coffee table, and two end tables. The tables were pretty straight forward, but the directions for the desks just didn’t make sense. In Zsolt’s post, I’m usually a C person. I’ll consider the A and B options, but typically I jump right to the manual and just get it done. Even if that means I have to take something apart and rebuild it.

The how-to manual for these particular desks was not accurate. No matter how closely we followed the manual, the desks were not coming together like they did in the images. The desks did not have all of the holes indicated in the images. The desks were the bane of my existence. I’m sure I cried. We somehow ended up getting them together (how, I don’t remember, because I’ve blocked out the trauma), and they were our desks from that point until we bought our house years later, when they were one of the first things we put out on the curb for garbage day.

Because of how awful and inaccurate the how-to manuals were for those desks, I vowed that I could write a better user manual, and began researching how one becomes the person to write such manuals. In my research, I discovered technical writing as a career path, and when I didn’t get in to grad school for SLP, I stumbled into my first Instructional Design gig. It was here that I discovered I didn’t necessarily want to write how-to manuals for the rest of my life, but I did occasionally get my taste of writing user guides and have since written two books that are essentially user guides.

In the end, I’m very happy that IKEA manuals prompted my interest in technical writing as I may never have found a passion for Instructional Design and E-Learning Development.

Terminology Tuesday: Fear of Not Knowing (FONK)


Most of us have heard the phrase Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO. FOMO occurs when you experience anxieties associated with being afraid that you’re going to miss out on something. However, until today, I had never heard of the phrase Fear of Not Knowing (FONK).


I was reading Mind Change: How Digital Technologies Are Leaving Their Mark on Our Brains by Susan Greenfield, and she began to discuss FONK. Specifically how it impacts our use of technology. You know that feeling you get that drives you to obsessively check your email, applications, etc.? That feeling is driven by FONK. By constantly checking in, you’re satisfying your mind’s need of being constantly up-to-date.

However, there are bigger implications associated with FONK that impact our behaviours. One such example is staying in a job that you hate because you’re afraid of what changing jobs/roles/etc. might involve or that you’re afraid of not being satisfied with the change. This too is FONK, and this is a situation that we see more and more. I feel like the millennials are a bit better at being more adaptive to change, and being more willing to subject themselves to change. However, in a traditional sense, we’ve been programmed to do things in a certain way, check the boxes, and stay put. This is causing unnecessary stress and suffering on a generation of working class individuals.

I don’t have any good suggestions for combatting FONK, but my greatest recommendation can only be to do what you can to be happy. Set boundaries for yourself (e.g. working for 1 hour before you allow yourself 5 minutes to check your news sites), and don’t let FONK control your destiny. Take a cue from FOMO, and give yourself permission to become more adaptive.