Just enough documentation of practices

Let the people doing the work design the work. Stop patronising knowledge work professionals.

Here is a model you may find useful: layers of increasing practice documentation detail and determinism. When you document an activity, determine the competence, professionalism, and empowerment of the people doing it. Then work your way down this stack documenting the minimum number of layers you need to in order to minimise risk and equip the people, AND NO MORE. Leave the rest to them.

So here they are

  • Vision, strategy
  • Goals, KPIs
  • Policy: rules, bounds
  • Roles, responsibilities/accountabilities, relationships to others
  • Plans
  • Value stream, system
  • Backlog
  • Processes
  • Procedures
  • Work instructions

Within each layer we can simplify as well for example

  • checklists
  • embed them in the machine in preference over written documentation

Knowledge workers want only the upper layers; clerical workers need all of them.
Knowledge workers are work8ng in complicated and complex domains. They need freedom for Case Management.
Clerical workers need all layers defined, for repeatability and precision in standardised transactional work.

Where you must define these layers, two last thoughts

  • Go to the gemba, look at the work. Write for reality, not what is in your head.
  • Challenge the level of ceremony
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