By including examples and case studies in your knowledge articles, you can encourage staff to learn – not follow.
Avoid the temptation to follow strict rules when documenting your processes as boring procedures.
Procedures are defined to show the commonand standard way to perform a task.
However, in all businesses, there are exceptions and workarounds – the non-standard ways of performing tasks.
If you document your exceptions as processes and mandatory instructions, you can often cause your teams to rely on written instructions and they may lose their ability to think outside the box and solve problems.
By documenting a reasonable amount of examples and case studies in your knowledge articles, rather than documenting step-by-step procedures and rules, you can encourage staff to learn – not follow. Everyone knows the stories ‘you can lead a horse to water’ and ‘teach a man to fish’.
The most critical part of using examples and case studies is to document the why – the rationale how to solve common problems and exceptions within your procedures.
If you simply provide work instructions to solve every single exception in your business, you risk staff not being able to uncover and resolve new and emerging issues that impact your operations and your customers.
Staff learn how to investigate and resolve issues that are similar to those that are already known. Staff also feel empowered to make decisions to resolve customer issues, rather than following procedures constantly.
This also translates to improved staff morale and sense of achievement. Furthermore, your customers benefit when staff are able to take initiative to resolve undocumented and complex issues, without needing to seek permission from a manager or supervisor.
Often it’s cheaper and simpler to document examples and case studies than to design, negotiate, author and disseminate procedures and work instructions.
Think about all the time needed to ensure a documented procedure matches all the possible use-cases and scenarios that it’s designed for – mapping the process, mapping the customer journey, testing the procedure.
Sometimes it’s better to document the high-level process and provide a few examples and case studies of how the process could be applied to different scenarios and in different contexts.
People aren’t robots – they aren’t designed to follow instructions – they are designed to learn and apply logic to different situations.
Sometimes the quick and easy solution is the best solution. Don’t over-engineer your processes, leverage examples and case studies to save time and effort, minimising overall costs.
All businesses can benefit from examples and case studies.
Even sole traders can benefit from documenting their own case studies and sharing with other small businesses online or through networking groups.