Slaves of SOP

By S. Ranganathan, Dr.
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By S. Ranganathan, Dr.

8/31/2011 2:01:26 PM -

Many organizations are investing heavily these days on documentation of various process and systems. Many corporate bosses dare to proclaim that they are very disciplined and strict about documenting every bit of experience for the future of the organization. Besides talking about creating SOP's, process documents, systems and process etc., they know nothing. Always they talk of only systems and process, preparations of usage instructions / manuals etc. How relevant or important are these documents or such an effort to the organization.

To understand and answer the above question, one needs to compare the two separate examples of how 'useful' and 'useless' the instructions manuals can be. A mobile phone, or a camera or a television or any other electronic gadgets can be easily operated using the usage instruction. One can learn about various functionalities of the gadget by carefully reading through the different steps in the user's guide and learn to operate them.

If a similar usage instruction is made available for a car or a bike or any other vehicle, can any one drive? Is driving a vehicle possible by reading a document on how to drive a vehicle?

What is so different? Why in one instance, the usage instruction helps one to operate the gadget well whereas such usage instruction becomes defunct and meaningless in the second instance as far as driving a vehicle is concerned?

This distinction every corporate must understand while preparing various documents for the 'so called' future of the organization. Without any foresight, if they start documenting every bit of activity into a document, it will help none and such an attempt would be like having a usage instruction even for driving a vehicle and which would serve none.

The experience cannot be documented or converted as a SOP. For certain job, the experience/art, besides knowledge is must. The confidence born out of experience is called 'insight' and confidence born out of knowledge is called 'guts'. Insight can only be experienced and guts only can be felt.

Unfortunately, neither the insight nor the guts can be documented. Interestingly the documented knowledge neither helps one to reach to an insight nor would help in some decision making possible with insights.

Then what way the documentation would help? The argument is not against having any documentation system. The system should enable the next generation to be highly empowered and it should not be an exercise of piling up documents.

In the ever changing market dynamics, yesterday become totally meaningless today. In such scenario, how documenting the experience of the past is going to help the future? If any bosses or managers become brainlessly busy, the corporate leaders should intervene and seek the validity such activities. One needs to identify the list of areas of operation to be brought under the sphere of documentation otherwise people will be absolutely busy for nothing.

Disclaimer: "The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article." © S. Ranganathan, Dr..

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