Aiming to transparently learn from competence and passion.
Too often, well-meaning people think ...process improvement is about creating, training, and implementing detailed processes or procedures. If they just build the perfect procedure, using all the right words and having a perfect format, engineers and project managers will recognize the intrinsic value of the procedure, pick it up and use it, right? Most of us recognize this outcome is unlikely. But why?
Because people like systems engineers, software developers, project/program managers, data analysts, designers, etc. don't deliver processes; they perform processes to deliver work products. They deliver requirements, design documents, specs, code, plans, contracts, progress and status reports, and measurements. What they need are consistent, quality ways of delivering those physical work products which their jobs demand.
Think about this ... give a project manager a 30-page procedure on how to create a project management plan, and she's still just staring at a blank screen when she returns to her desk to do the work. Conversely, put a project management plan template file on her PC's desktop, one that is complete with instructions and examples for each section, and - viola! - she's quickly and efficiently creating the project management plan. And it's the PMP her boss or customer is asking her for; not a process or procedure.
Source: http://www.naturalspi.com/workprod.html accessed 2006-06
(naturalspi.com has taken down the page)
In my experience, good templates help a lot. They can get better if exposed to feedback and continual improvement. Many employees anyway error-fix and improve templates and tools as they use them. However, often the feedback mechanism is too cumbersome to bother submitting, so the company loses out on improving its tools.
In addition, examples of work done well, and especially commented examples can replace a lot of procedures. These can economically be gathered if the records of work done are easy to access and useful examples and comments are openly pointed out as good practice.
Image: Gavriel Navarro "The Essence"