By Cindy Pao, President, STC Houston

Merriam-Webster Dictionary (online) defines critical mass as, “a size, number, or amount large enough to produce a particular result.” So let’s talk about that for a moment, shall we?

I tell people at work that I’m close to critical mass because the number of projects I have never shrinks; the number only seems to grow. I wonder aloud to them when I will reach critical mass and if my head will explode when I reach that point.

I look around at my volunteer commitments, and I wonder if all of those commitments will drive me to critical mass and, again, if my head will explode when I reach that point.

Then, when I think I just might have reached critical mass, I get one more project or take on one more commitment, and life carries on without my head exploding. I feel cheated, as if the Supreme Judge of Fairness has overlooked me – again. I wonder when life will slow down, allowing me the luxury of being able to read all of my back copies of Intercom, the interesting articles I’ve printed off of the Internet, and the email newsletters that are piled up in my Open – Other email folder.

But I’ve noticed something: We’re all heading toward critical mass. It’s almost as if anyone who is not heading toward critical mass is not desirable or should fear for the safety of their job.

How Do We Stop the Cycle?

Technical communicators know how to get a job done well. That’s why you ask the technical communicator!

But in knowing how to get the job done, we must improve ourselves so that we get the job done well and efficiently. We need to know how to do our jobs – how to wear our many hats – better, and that’s where STC comes into play.

If the point of STC Houston is to help technical communicators do their jobs, then the educational programs we offer need to teach you those skills. That’s how we break the cycle. We learn so that we can work better.

The STC Houston meeting and workshop speakers have been selected to help you do that. So, please, join us for a meeting. We’ll introduce you to others who are just like you. We’ll teach you something new. We’ll welcome you into a community that loves to help its own, and we’ll give you a few minutes (or maybe hours) to let the projects and commitments wait. Maybe you’ll find the inspiration you were looking for to help you finish that big project! Maybe you’ll make a new friend.

Let’s start another conversation

Name something you did to prevent critical mass. By sharing, we can make the world a little less busy.


Merriam-Webster, Dictionary online

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