Let’s start with some terms:
Undocumented Knowledge Workers (UKWs) are those in your company who have been around long enough to collect enough tribal knowledge to do their job but have nothing written down, no real documentation about how they do their job or what they are accountable or responsible for. UKWs come in two forms.
- Innocent UKWs are good people, kind-hearted yet unaware, they are those who don’t realize the value in documenting what they do.
- Subversive UKWs are those who hoard tribal knowledge for their Job security and power. They intentionally avoid documenting what they are doing, thinking wrongly, that it makes them secure and powerful.
Bowls of Warm Pudding or Houses of Cards?
The most soothing scenario is a Warm Bowl of Pudding, and this is what I mean. When a Documented Knowledge Worker leaves your company, you are so organized, so Organizationally Cognizant® about what that person was doing that it is just like a big bowl of warm pudding, you take a spoonful out (the person leaving) and within minutes the hole has filled in and you don’t even miss the scoop. This happens when you have involved your people in properly documenting and updating how your organization actually operates. Huge competitive advantage. (see how below)
The worst scenario is the House of Cards where Subversives thrive.
Fact: Statistics show that US workers are changing jobs or thinking about changing jobs at the rate of 20% to 40% per year. This means that on average, 1/3rd of your people will be new each year.
This almost guaranteed annual turn of Workers and the constant scramble and chaos that is created when they leave a company has become a fact of life for many organizationally unaware owners, leaders, and managers. Many of these owners and leaders rose up out of the Innocent Undocumented Knowledge Worker pool, they have never experienced bowls of warm pudding, all they know is the chaos, they think the chaos and the scramble are normal.
Unfortunately, many owners and leaders are so damaged, so worn out from this chaos cycle that they put up with the Subversives who are holding their organization hostage. Owners and Managers are so busy recruiting, retelling the tribal stories, on-boarding, and retraining, that they inadvertently create this never-ending house-of-cards collapse cycle. And in the dust created from each collapse hide your Subversives who are constantly driving well-meaning, information starved, frustrated Undocumented Knowledge Workers out the backdoor faster than you can bring them in the front.
To grow we must acknowledge that turnover will happen, maybe we can slow it down, but the honest approach is to embrace the turnover statistics and get ahead of the game by documenting what we do.
Creating the warm bowl of pudding by filling your company with Documented Knowledge Workers is actually pretty straightforward and simple, it might not be easy, but it is straightforward and simple.
It requires three things:
- A message, model, and framework your people can easily understand and buy into.
- A participation and facilitation system where your people see the effort as done for them and not to them. (Note: Subversives will fight this effort tooth and nail, so, be ready)
- A way for the Documented Knowledge Workers to actively access and update and share their work, what they do, their knowledge base. I.e. Software
If you want to learn more or take an active step you can look into the items below.
I write about the above three things in my book “Death of The Org Chart, Rise of the Organizational Graph”, we teach them via workshops with clients where we train your trainers, we share them via videos and on-line learnings at https://OrganizationalCogniance.University, and we have a software platform, OGraph.io to capture, document and visualize the knowledge.
Let’s eliminate organizational confusion and dysfunction from the workplace forever.