It was April 1994 – I was living in America.  I started a new job as a software engineer.  There was just one other software engineer in the business.  He was very ill.  I was astonished he continued to work.  He said he needed to for the health insurance.  What a screwed-up healthcare system eh?

    By June he was dead.  Liver cancer.  A real tragedy.

    But life goes on.  And guess who needed to keep the show on the road?

   And was the software documented?  Even at a high-level?

    You guessed it.  No.

    Imagine one of your team asks you a question. A question about something you know intimately.  Perhaps some process you use.  Or maybe some piece of machinery.  Or software. 

   It’s something you can do on autopilot but which your colleague is encountering for the first time.  You’re easily able to answer their question and then you go back to whatever it was you were doing.

    But that bit of knowledge: does it reside anywhere else other than in your head?  And might someone else in the future need to know it too?  And where would they get that knowledge?

    Should you capture it somewhere? 

    It can be a balancing act sometimes can’t it?  You want to be nimble.  You want to minimise inefficient processes.  But at the same time, there’s something to be said for having some sort of central repository of knowledge.

    So that you don’t need to teach someone else the same thing again.  Saving your most precious resource (time) is always a good thing.

    So that the knowledge is available to others if you’re unavailable for whatever reason.

    So that the work could perhaps be entirely delegated to someone else.

    And you also make your business more valuable (as a sellable asset) the more you reduce the business’ reliance on you.  Do you know anyone who sold their business but who stayed involved in it?  Probably yes.  But do you know anyone who sold their business and walked away completely? 

    I’ve two contractors on board at the moment helping out.  And asking excellent questions.  So I’m writing an FAQ list for them both to be able to see – and perhaps their successors. It’s not War & Peace.  Just a modest FAQ section in a training document that’s on a shared drive.

    Is there knowledge in your head that you could better leverage for your business?

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