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Page 34 of 103

MARCH 2023 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 35 I hope the new owner loved our former house as much as we did and ended up with a beautiful yard of new plants and bushes. My point in relating this story, however, is in how the moving crew supervisor used his experience to save the day. I was having a cri- sis moment, and needed someone who knew what to do and wasn't afraid to use their knowl- edge to get the job done. Yet, if you were to look up the processes and procedures for this moving company, I will bet that there wasn't a single piece of documentation that detailed how to handle a mud-caked driveway filled with shrubbery. Instead, to successfully solve the problem, this supervisor relied on his past experiences in dealing with various scenarios and his gut instincts. Obviously, documented procedures are essential. But it's important to react to unique situations with only our experiences and knowledge to guide us; this is what some would label as reliance on tribal knowledge. ere is a fine line here, and, realistically, the need for both is important. Con- sidering this, how can we manage tribal knowl- edge within our organizations to ensure that we get the best results no matter which course of action is required? Here are some ideas. Facilitate Open Communication Isolation is a negative aspect of tribal knowledge that should be avoided. Without the ability to freely share information between co- workers, critical procedures will inevitably get siloed by groups or individuals, bringing about the bad results we've discussed. Instead, ensure that communication with your co- workers is unencumbered by either technol- ogy or company culture. Open communication gives everyone a stake in the game and helps bring to light important process steps that are all too oen known only to a few. Keep Documentation Up to Date If you don't want the critical processes in your workflow relegated to tribal knowledge, it's essential that you keep your documenta- tion fresh. is requires regularly scheduled reviews of your procedures and putting a sys- tem in place for workers to report outdated or incorrect processes. Make Documentation Easily Accessible Another important but oen overlooked element of good documentation is its accessi- bility. How many times have you needed a pro- cedure, and yet you couldn't quickly find what you were looking for? As corporations grow, so do their file systems and documentation pro- cesses. Workers may not know where to look for their procedures or that they even exist in the first place. One of the quickest ways to fos- ter the creation of unwanted tribal knowledge is to bury important process documentation so deep that no one can find it. Encourage Initiative Even with all the best docu- mentation in the world, there will be those times when someone must deal with a muddy driveway. To ensure that your corpo- ration doesn't stall out when critical non-stan- dard decisions have to be made, encourage your team to feel they have the ini- tiative and freedom to do so. You may lose control in some circumstances, and there may even be a few errors, but if you want to be ready to handle the unexpected, it requires some risk. You will develop greater operational flexibility in your company, foster a new sense of ownership, and encourage a desire to excel. Isolation is a negative aspect of tribal knowledge that should be avoided.

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