»Lesson 3

Building a Culture of Documentation

Documentation as an ongoing process

Some people envision documentation as a “one and done” activity. One person – the founder or team lead, perhaps – writes down everything, and voila! You’re done forever, right? In fact, documentation is an ongoing process. The best teams contribute a little bit every day or every week. You’re never quite “done”, since things are always changing. It’s about making a tiny investment every day, rather than doing a big sprint one time.
 

Get everyone involved

Furthermore, documentation is more than one person’s job. Everyone on your team has areas of expertise to share. Documentation is about pinpointing those facts or processes that only a few people know.
 
Creating a culture of great documentation hinges on your ability to help everyone internalize this approach. Ideally, everyone on the team starts holding one another accountable, making suggestions to document info in Tettra as those pieces of info come up in conversation or day-to-day work. You can help facilitate this mindset by encouraging people to jot things down. Give people a gentle nudge in the form of a Tettra suggestion. When people do write something down for the first time, give them a word of encouragement in the comments section of the Tettra page. These small gestures go a long way in cultivating a culture of great documentation.

Your assignment

Look at your calendar, and pick one or two meetings you’re going to document over the next week. Commit to drafting a Tettra page immediately after the meeting ends. If possible, put a 10-minute hold on your calendar immediately after the meeting ends, so you remember.
 
Your notes can be brief: jot down some basics about the people who attended, the topics discussed, any action items, and open questions still to be answered. Share your notes with other attendees and invite them to comment on or add to your page by mentioning your team members on the page.
 
Help others adopt a similar attitude when it comes to documentation. Rather than asking people to document everything about the work they do, pinpoint one or two things someone could write down, and ask that person to write it down in Tettra with a page suggestion.