If you don’t write it down, it never happened. This mantra has massive organizational application. Because at any company, no matter how strong the culture is, how delicious the snacks are and how amazing the benefits are, employees are always going to churn. Attrition is an unfortunate and inevitable part of doing business. When you work at a fast growing startup, the people who get you from x to y aren’t the same people who are going to get you from y to z. All the more reason to write everything down. Because the last thing the team needs is for someone to leave the company, and then realize the next day, oh crap, that that person was the only one who had all the information.
GOLD MINING — Immortalizing key learnings that would otherwise just live inside one team member’s brain
The worst thing is when the fruit of somebody's knowledge never takes root in the organizational soul, and the rest of the team is left scrambling to reeducate themselves. One question that’s been helpful to ask your team is, what’s not immortalized on a document that just lives inside your brain? Everyone has their own version of this. There’s some philosophy or process or strategy that’s widely useful for them, but they’ve never taken the time to sit down and deconstruct what they do. It’s just so intuitive and abstract for them, they don’t think to document it. But as we learned, if you don’t write it down, it never happened.
I used to do twenty minute gold mining sessions with my fellow team members. They didn't have to prepare anything, just show up, answer a bunch of questions on a specific topic within their expertise, then I'd transcribe the recording and convert the content into useful material for internal and external use. It was a time saver, knowledge lever and a lot of fun. It's amazing how insightful people can be we they don't have to think, but simply react.
If your organization wants to replicate your team knowledge more exactly and practically, create a process to get things out of people’s heads and into objective, reviewable formats. Before it’s too late. At your company, what’s not immortalized on a document that just lives inside somebody’s brain?
Replicate your team knowledge more exactly and practically
Get more leverage out of smart people who can’t be everywhere at once
Prevent knowledge loss and the cost of reeducation when team members leave
Create a process to get things out of people’s heads and into objective, reviewable formats.