Seeing the woods for the trees
Our brain wants to understand the context, scope and extent of information ("The Woods") before it dives into its detail ("A tree")
Generally, when we try to write process and procedure we often struggle to know where or how to start, how much information and expertise to assume the reader already has and how to put down tasks in ‘this, before this, before that’ order to reach a goal.
We usually just start at what we first think of as the beginning ( the first tree) and then proceed to write; littering the instructions with afterthoughts, not particularly relevant additional information, and advice that really should have come before the instruction. E.g Cut one of the wires, but make sure it’s not the red one, or the brown one if there isn’t a red one and not too close to the C4 and not at all if there is a secondary trigger.
We need to be able to order our thoughts after we have had them as well as during. We also often need to complete the thought before we really understand its beginning and endpoints ( that Tree) and where it might sit in the grand order of performing the whole task (where in the Woods).
This is why for most people, simple flow charts are inadequate to convey performance information. They either become two low-level bullet points in boxes (branches on a tree) or generic descriptors of many implied but unspecified tasks (large groves of trees)
Built from the best, accelerated learning principals
- The titles of cards in a Knowhow Manager ‘deck’ act like simple flow chart boxes allowing reordering of the process flow to accommodate new proceeding and following thoughts. However, the body of these cards capture and preserve the detailed thinking needed to help define the beginning and endpoints of these task ‘cards’ at any time during the authoring process.
- Hints and tips cards prevent ‘nice to know’ content blowing out to obscure what you actually need to do, to achieve the outcome the procedure or process is designed for.
- We recommend identifying the first card in the deck as the starting point but creating the last card next. The last card records what success looks like and should be created before attempting to create all the steps in between
- KM has a ‘split here’ function that breaks larger cards into smaller bite-sized ones during the authoring process, which in turn allows these to be reordered in the workflow
- Any system, file, contact or media used in the performance of the process or procedure can be designated to launch from the completed documentation; directly from the documentation.
- Together with ISO 9001 Quality System, time and date stamping, auto-archiving, social media–like feedback and continuous improvement engines, ensure that your documentation is living documentation, ensuring your best practice is always your current common practice.