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Now, lets start documenting

January 20, 2009

Documenting means writing it down. Not just once and filing it away. Like our work practices, this document will evolve with the environment and experience. New lessons will be learned and old procedures will become outdated.

It is important that the document matures as fast as the workplace and that it serves as both a reference and record. If it becomes stale or out of date, it will stop being referred to. If it doesn’t reflect work practices, team members will work around it.

We document:

Standards: What are we trying to achieve? What is the minimum accepted or our benchmarks for performance? Is it best practice or legislated by a higher authority (government, safety etc.)

Processes: How do we do it? Can we do it different way and are operators allowed to select the best method?

Results: How are we going? Are we on schedule or are targets being met?

Feedback: What are our customers saying? What about employees, competitors and suppliers – are their comments any less valuable?

Responses: What are we doing with all this information? Do we have any revised goals, additional plans or strategies to implement?

This is where it all ties in together. Documenting is not a waste of time or effort, it is an opportunity. An opportunity to record what we have done for future generations, identify and promote the most effective practices, share the team direction and disseminate our stance on issues like environmental impact, safety, quality and customer service.

This may sound like ‘big picture’ organisational stuff here, but it is really the actions of the individual members that contribute to achieving ‘documentational harmony’ (as I like to call it). This is where processes are documented to the level that every member know what to to do or how to find out how to do something, but they still have the ability to utilise experience and common sense to deal with the unknown or unusual events. In other words, the balance between not having enough guidelines (wishy washy in details and provide no assistance to making decisions) or having to much and be bogged down by details (you need a dictionary a lawyer and an eidetic memory to use).

So what does that mean for us in training? I’ll talk about that next.

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