Documentation is important, gosh darn it.
I had a conversation with a highly experienced business owner late last week that gave me some feedback I found alarming.
We were talking about process improvement, and he told me what he thought about some of the copy on my website that mentions "documentation."
He didn't think it was important. Nor did the wording tell him enough about what my company does.
And it's my fault.
I haven't explained this well enough.
Documentation is important. Far more important than you think.
When people see that word, "Documentation," I can understand that their eyes glaze over.
It sounds boring.
"Yeah, yeah," they say. "I know about documentation."
After all, all you have to do is write things down...right?
And then you're documented.
Good Documentation Is The Key To Learning
Unfortunately, that's where the understanding ends for most business people.
And when they see that word, "documentation," their brains shut off. It's already dealt with. No big deal. Not even a problem.
Right there: that's the fail point.
When you think you've already handled something...that's the very item you should be reviewing.
Since my company documents other companies for a living, I can tell you a few things. Let's begin with this: most organizations are pretty darn poor about documentation.
They don't have process maps.
They certainly don't understand their metrics.
They did not choose their measures deliberately, instead abdicating that responsibility to some tech who came in to install their CRM.
Let's Change Your Definition of Documentation
Most organizations are way off when it comes to effective documentation.
Let me state this plainly: data collection is NOT documentation.
Especially data collection by default.
Have you noticed that many companies collect data...and then have no idea what to do with it?
That is a symptom, resulting directly from the problem of not having chosen good, business-specific KPIs.
Let me continue: if you don't document well, you can't learn anything.
The story will change over time, and the lessons you thought you learned will become invalidated.
Let's say you've got a knockout sales team of three people. They land a multi-million dollar contract and come back swaggering.
But how do you repeat that experience?
The answer is to get busy documenting exactly what happened.
Documenting with clarity.
If you don't, two years from now Mary and John from the superstar sales team will be gone...and Sam will be telling a hero story that so aggrandizes his own involvement as the fulcrum of the sale you'll never be able to separate him from the results.
And how do you duplicate that?!
The opportunity to grasp exactly what did happen will have long been lost.
And your organization won't learn a thing.
If there's one thing I could persuade you of here, it's this: When you see the word "documentation" from now on, pay attention. Get alert. Look at it and its surroundings carefully.
What measures are being used? Data collected? Will they help you record a solid story, one that stays consistent over time, one that gives you the tools to derive repeatable results?
From my perspective, this is the key: the element that makes your company a learning organization. And you must become a learning organization to adapt and survive and thrive. Stagnant organizations who don't adjust and improve over time simply go extinct.
You say you know that.
But your documentation tells me otherwise.
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