Write for Insight: The Surprising Link between Documentation and Continuous Improvement (Blog 4 of 4)

Safeguard Your Institutional Knowledge Before It Walks Out the Door! is a four-part blog series written by Nancy E. Weiss, of Catalyst Consulting Group, LLC. Learn how to capture your organization’s unique intelligence and use it to grow, excel, and thrive. Get FREE tools!
Contact Nancy: 612-709-1531 or email
This is the fourth post in a four-part series. It describes an easy way to make the writing of documentation a regular practice. Learn how the results can be used to improve operations.
Click here to get the FREE Catalyst Institutional Knowledge Starter Kit. Click here to request Posts 1-3 in this series.
Institutional Knowledge is:
  • All of the specialized information, products, unique processes, patents, intelligence, and “secret sauce,” including innovations individuals make that rightfully belong to your company or organization.
  • Organization-specific wisdom, insights, opinions, acumen, awareness, and perceptions that come from years of employment that may be useful to others, usually provided by leaders, but can also come from staff, board members, and others.
  • All operational processes, procedures, etc., that keep your organization going.

Catalyst President Nancy WeissDocumenting can seem daunting or boring, two feelings that often lead to procrastination. But what if you considered it a creative process, a chance to reflect and put your best ideas onto paper, or an opportunity to make real change for the better? The regular practice of documenting your institutional knowledge can become all of these, even an occasion for team building.

Whether we realize it or not, people are constantly innovating and seeking to make things better—for themselves, their organizations, and their colleagues. People do this instinctively when the light bulb goes on, but it’s even better to make innovation a regular, conscious habit and keep the creative juices primed. You can do this by reflecting on your work by yourself, in a group work journal, and during discussions. Sharing your ideas to make improvements is the point!

To get started, you’ll need to complete your audit and make a plan to capture the information you don’t have. But once you’ve done the hard work, next comes the more creative side of documentation.

A new kind of journal: speak, outline, doodle, or write

  • Why journal? Journaling allows us to regularly capture better ways of completing tasks, lessons learned from challenges we faced, success stories, insights, important events, problems, challenges and how they were overcome, opportunities, threats, etc. Once these important elements of institutional knowledge are captured, it’s critical that you use them to inform updates to processes, procedures, policies, marketing, accounting, HR, and all the rest. That’s how journaling contributes to continuous improvement.
  • How to journal? Your company’s institutional knowledge is as unique as your staff, so how you journal will need to mirror that uniqueness. It may be through formal or informal means. It may be that you like to speak your ideas into a microphone first as you’re jogging, or you may find outlining or writing is the way to go. Others may want to doodle or mind-map and then come together to put the maps together. So long as you can clearly share your ideas later with your team, boss, or employees, you might choose to keep an audio journal, draw, or mind-map your ideas. The sky’s the limit.
  • When to journal? Your organization should decide how often people should individually track innovations and issues. Some will say daily. Others will say monthly or when something highly critical occurs.
  • Who should journal? Ideally, everyone in your organization should journal, but having a single champion for the effort will ensure that valuable input will continue to nourish your company. This individual will monitor the process, encourage everyone to continue, and help the organization put to use the ideas generated from these efforts.

Share the news

Journaling should be followed by regular sharing. Again, how often it is shared and how is up to you. But some suggested strategies are: regular departmental, team, or peer group meetings; change management newsletter entries; manager-employee one-on-ones or online bulletin boards. The documentation champion will need to ensure that existing documentation gets updated.  Get started!

 


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