»Lesson 9

How to Effectively Capture Facts, Processes, and Unspoken Norms

By now, you’re probably thinking a lot about the different kinds of knowledge you and your teammates are carrying around with you. Hopefully, you’ve started to gather and document some of that knowledge in Tettra. Let’s take a quick step back to define different types of knowledge and evaluate how each can be best communicated.

Types of Knowledge

Often, information falls into one of the following categories:
  1. Factual (or declarative) knowledge: facts about how your team or organization like your wifi password, your address, your vacation policy, or even things like your next product launch date or feature release schedule
  2. Procedural knowledge: how you do certain things like how to write a postmortem, how to publish a blog post, or how to file reimbursement reports for your expenses
  3. Tacit (or implicit) knowledge: things you know but might struggle to define. This might even be knowledge that you know but don’t even realize you possess. For instance, you may not have been to how to treat your co-workers, but you’ve probably gained a sense of this through observation of those around you.

How to Capture Different Types of Knowledge

  1. Factual: this is generally quick and easy to capture in Tettra. It’s also much smarter to communicate factual knowledge via Tettra, rather than sharing it verbally. First, people will likely need to refer back to these facts multiple times, so writing it down saves you from repeating yourself. Second, facts can be tough for people to remember, and there are risks if someone gets it wrong. For example, if a team member uses the wrong zip code when buying a piece of equipment, the purchase might not go through, or it may be sent to the wrong address.
  2. Procedural: this takes a bit more time to document, but it’s also best suited to Tettra. Sure, you may want to run someone through a process the first time around, but make sure you also write it down, so they can refer back to your notes as needed. This type of knowledge transfer is strengthened by images or videos. Show, don’t just tell, in order to clarify the processes you want to describe.
  3. Tacit: this can be much harder to write down. Often, we know things “in our gut” but would be hard-pressed to describe how we know them. Tacit knowledge is often valuable to cover in person (or synchronously,) so that people can clarify or ask follow-up questions. Still, even tacit knowledge deserves to be in Tettra. Don’t make new hires question whether something is appropriate within in the new company culture they’ve joined. The more you try to explain (even if imperfectly) your company culture, values, brand identity, or writing style/tone, the easier it is for new people to adhere to the way you like to do things.

Your assignment

Pick one item from each category and document it in Tettra. Observe how quickly or slowly you can do each. Try to be as clear as possible within each category, and ask others for feedback on whether you've documented things well. By setting an example for your teammates, you'll help them start to understand the different types of information they can document.