Procedures must connect directly to the work performed to be effective in achieving their desired intent. That is the “relevance” test.
The second critical element of the procedure is that they must be learning-focused. Since the procedure is only as valuable as the learning enabled by it, the procedure must be structured in a way that helps the worker to learn how to perform the task.
A learning-focused procedure must take into account the realities of adult learning. (I have never written procedures for child-labor camps, so adults have been my exclusive audience.) One of the key elements of adult learning is that adults learn best when they can “hook” a concept to a concept they have already learned or understand. To simply throw thousands and thousands of words (with a few photos thrown in) together in some linear progression may result in a procedure, but it will not result in learning.
A previous employer had me review a procedure for a piece of processing equipment at one of their production locations. When I received a copy of the Word file containing the procedure, it was a quarter of a gigabyte. The table of contents alone was 12 pages, the whole document over 200 pages. Any fact even remotely connected to operating the equipment was included in this procedure. While all of the information was there, it was not arranged in any way that would facilitate learning.
(Side note: this leads to another reason procedures can exist. The structure of the procedure suggested its primary purpose was to nail anyone who performed incorrectly for “failure to follow procedure.” Knowing the manager responsible for the procedure, I am certain I am correct in this assessment.)
To develop a learning-focused procedure, I use a technique I liken to “wading into progressively deeper water.” In short, I create hooks in the early parts of procedures and attach new learning to those hooks as the procedure topic is developed. This I will focus on in Part 6.