Good ProcedureProcedure and Technique

One of the things I do when I workout, or drive alone, is to listen to podcasts. One of the podcasts I subscribe to is the Art of Charm, which they describe themselves as providing social skills training for Top Performers. In short, they talk about all kinds of self-improvement stuff from social skills, entrepreneurship, business, and fitness. This time the podcast was about procedures vs technique.

During one of my drives to work, I was listening to episode number 505, with Karen Baetzel. In that episode, she discusses her career as a Naval female aviator, one of the first. She also discusses communication, leadership, followers, and other constructive ideas she learned in the military. It’s an informative episode, and I would encourage anyone to listen to it.

One of the topics Karen mentioned in the podcast was the difference between technique and procedure. She defined procedure as a standard regulation that can’t be arbitrarily changed. It’s the policy, or rule, governing how an action is carried out. Whereas a technique is a way, an individual carries out a procedure in any manner they choose, so long as they stay within the guidelines of the process.

Why it’s important

Having been in IT for nearly 20 years and a DBA for the last several, this struck a chord with me. We are all very aware of change management, and how change affects our environments. We should all be adept at documenting how we make these changes as well. One of the things I have noticed, though, is there isn’t a standard on how to create documentation. I’ve worked for organizations where the quality of documentation fluctuates wildly from department to department. While I understand the technique portion, I think it gets applied too liberally at times. In this case, how documentation gets created.

Procedures, policies, and in some cases, work items should be thoroughly documented so that anyone can walk right in and take over. However, a document standard/template should be created as an organization, and each department should do their best to meet that standard. The technique can vary with writing styles. If a team, or an organization, needs access to historical information, the last place that information should be is in a mailbox of someone who is off or no longer with the organization. Storing this type of information shouldn’t be left to technique.

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