Few like to do it; it’s not sexy or groundbreaking but long term it will greatly increase our odds of success. What is it? Clear and thorough documentation of what we do. When we’re in the moment doing the cool next thing it’s easy to forget about documenting our steps. Early on in the process when things are changing minute to minute it might not be worth it but once things have settled down a bit it’s the most important step. By having clear and thorough documentation of everything it enables us to reliably repeat what we did months or years ago, even if the people that did it no longer work there.
But just having the documentation isn’t enough. It has to actually be useable by the people that will be doing the work. Is it clear enough? If someone who has never see the work before is given it will they be able to follow the instructions and repeat what was done. To do this takes a lot of effort. You need to document every step and really get into the nitty gritty when you assume the person knows nothing.
Which leads into the documentation being thorough. If we assume the person knows nothing about the work then every small little detail and aspect can be important. Those little things you take for granted can end up being massive time sinks later on as people try to figure out what they should be doing. When you document take a step back and look at the whole. What are all the steps you’re doing, what are the little things you might do that drastically work towards the aim, and what are the things you do that aren’t advancing the aim.
But be careful, for with thorough documentation can come bureaucracy and needless length. If your documentation becomes too thorough it can lead to people ignore it or creating their own way of getting things done. Which is why you need to consider what’s not advancing the aim as well. What are the things you can leave out that aren’t important just like what are the small things you do that are massively important. Just think, if you were handed a 100 page manual and told that was how you’re going to work would you follow it to the letter?
Give it a try, find one of those things you just “do” and put some documentation behind it. Then, follow it like you would if you had never done it before and see if it’s any good. You might even try it on something you may have never though could use documentation. Putting up holiday decorations perhaps.