history and a predictive productive future

The thing about work, is well, we tend to be our own worst enemy. You have heard that before, haven’t you? I assume there was no big surprise when I said that. I also assume when I say – we should study the history to help the future – your eyes may have rolled and again you will assume that I am stating the obvious. Yet, I beg to argue, if we truly understand what we have done, where we have been then we would not repeat the same things… over and over…

At most employers there is a substantial turnover, which may be up or out, but regardless, the positions and people change which lead to gaps in the information structure. Gaps which we did not document, or information that we were not for sure of yet. Even so, when the move happens most information is lost and the oncoming person is training in the very basics of the position and the balance is learned by experience, time and others. The original information may have been lost though, until the problem rears its’ ugly head again. So what can we do to prevent the shock of a change?

  1. Have standardized work, or job aids for critical tasks. There are many formats available – however I am sure that one size does not fit all. You will want to identify the record keeping style and ensure it is maintained (up to date). You may also wish to have full training programs created so that it is a routine, not a mess, when new people arrive. This not only looks good for the employee but helps the team adapt as well.

  2. Record and archive problem solving events along with the literature related to the project. This needs to be something that is easy to search and readily accessible.

  3. Cross train multiples in key areas to avoid any large institutional knowledge loss. The more people that know about an activity, project, or position the less likely you are to suffer from a separation.

  4. Update standardized documents as they change. Do not wait for an audit to uncover the antiquated procedures. By that time, it may be too late and the business put to risk when not needed.

  5. Consider an annual training on key events or procedures which encompass the earlier points. That way, each year a new group is exposed and a veteran group is refreshed.

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
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2 responses to “history and a predictive productive future

  1. True. Many organizations do not have a ‘library’ of ‘how-was-it-done’ type. Some even encourage a communication gap between the old and the new incumbent, so there is an endless cycle of reinventing the wheel which keeps going on.

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