a3nm's blog

Self-documented organizations

An important challenge in corporations is the issue of documentation: trying to describe and formalize all internal processes to ensure that the system is consistent and can withstand the departure of some staff members.

However, are there really organizations which have managed to document themselves so extensively that the documentation is really sufficient to make things work? I mean, imagine that all the staff in a factory suddenly disappeared. Would it be possible to replace them by new people, and get things running (allowing for an adaptation period during which the people get the time to read the documentation and find out what they're supposed to do, but barring any help from outside people)?

I think there really isn't any such system, and that the importance of oral tradition is still underestimated. (It feels quite strange when you realize that systems like big corporations, governments and such are all based on oral tradition, ie. on unwritten rules handed down from co-worker to co-worker, and that the sudden vanishing of a certain number of key people would perhaps be enough to bring them down.) Nevertheless, if such a system were designed and published, it would be, somehow, very beautiful in an abstract way (ie. to get this system running, put together the following number of people, and just follow the instructions...).

comments welcome at a3nm<REMOVETHIS>@a3nm.net