2017 – Life Beyond the “Big Honkin’ Binder” 

The Organizational Biology models describes entities as having two parts: Mass and Adeptness.  Procedure manuals are mass even when they exist as in a digital format such as a wiki (Mass is anything you can drop on your foot or print off and drop on your foot).  In my blog, Documentation is a Waste of Time, I disparage creating procedures a wee bit but also provide a small ray of hope:

Documentation is a complete and utter waste of time… until the moment when you need it. Therefore figure out when you will need the documentation and work backwards from there.

In this article I hopefully have helped organizations find that ray of hope.  The contract site that is the center of the article is the sixth time I have used wikis to create procedures.  In retrospect I would have built the other five very differently after writing this article.  This would include using the concept of minimalism (see a thank you to John M. Carroll below).  But that is the adeptness part of Organizational Biology – screw  up enough times so you know what not to do, yeah!  Read on for either the published SharePointasaDocumentationTool_FrankPotter[1]version, my Director’s cut (a bit rougher but with more detail) and some thank yous.

A Few Thank You’s

Again, thank you to my friendly peer reviewers for their support.  The following are a few other notes of thanks.

Scott Adams and Universal Uclick

Thank you to Scott Adams for his brilliant Dilbert cartons including the gem from December 8th, 1994 and the catch line for the title of the article.  In helping me obtain the license to the image (with patient explanations), a thank you goes out to Raegan Carmona, Manager of Permissions, Universal Uclick.

1994-12-08, DILBERT © 1994 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.

John M. Carroll and Minimalism

When you last bought an electronic device there was probably a ‘get started’ guide in about 15 languages but not an instruction booklet.  John (Jack) M. Carroll has influenced packaging through his work evaluating computer manuals.  To read more on this concept, see his book: Minimalism Beyond the Nurnberg Funnel.  In an email interview, Carroll says:

“The basic idea of minimalist information is that people cannot effectively use comprehensive manuals; they make all sorts of errors. But people are outstanding at taking hints and reasoning.  Once you have that insight, the design of information is a totally different challenge!”

Thank you Mr. Carroll for taking the time to evaluate the side bar article on Minimalism and providing corrections and directions.  Like the above peer reviewers, his generosity is greatly appreciated.

Stephen B. Page – 18 Decisions

Thank you Stephen B. Page who provided permission to use his 18 decisions before starting to write which is a side bar article.  Page has a number of excellent books on procedure writing available from his website: (www.companymanuals.com).

Popular Science and Anderson Newton Design

Finally, thank you Popular Science (Bonnier Corporation) for permitting reference to the image published in their January 26, 2015 edition; The Disappearance Of The Instruction Manual.  Joe Newton from Anderson Newton Design provided the designer permission which resulted in a great sidebar (phew).

The Evolution of the Manual.