In Praise of Procedures! (Part 7)

OK, I go to Hawaii for two weeks in July, and immediately after I began my new paying gig, which entails developing manuals for very sophisticated industrial equipment (I am bound by an NDA so I’ll play it safe and not say any more). And before I can recover from my good fortune, 2 1/2 months pass without a post. I will do better, I promise.

My new gig has been a wonderful experience so far and has expanded my sphere of communication development to include the “operation manual,” in which I describe my company’s equipment  for the benefit of our customers. The commonality between the operation manual and operating procedures I will explore in future posts. Let’s just say my eight or so weeks in the new role has taught me many things and confirmed many others.

Now, back to the glory of procedures!

In the last post, we focused on the reason for an operating procedure to exist. And it boiled down to two purposes:

To tell the learner everything they need to learn

To tell the teacher everything they need to teach

If these are truly the basic purposes of procedures, then it follows that the structure and content of the procedures be able to achieve the purpose.

We will talk about structure shortly, but let’s first focus on content. The content of a procedure should include:

All information necessary to perform the essential activities, and no more!

While that makes sense, it begs the question…how do I know what information belongs? That is sadly a question not so many people ask when confronted with writing a procedure, and the resulting procedure too often bears witness to the lack of forethought.

In my next post, we will talk more about content, and how content is also the basis of structure. Until then, happy writing!

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About Tim James "Mr. Procedure"

A communicator; all-purpose capability in writing, designing and presenting training for all facets of organizational function. While my focus has been manufacturing, my training/development experience includes supervisory and lead person development, audit processes, continuous improvement and Lean, and Quality Management System implementation.
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