In this post, Jed Cawthorne uses Star Wars as an allegory for poor information management. Star Wars is a useful allegory for what happens when hard won knowledge is accidentally (?) discarded and the potential pain to be endured in learning it again. In an enterprise context this manifests most often when business processes are not adequately documented at design time, and then someone tries to document them later, but doesn’t finish.
This is a common problem in many organizations. I am finding numerous examples of this lack of knowledge transfer in a scholarly association to which I belong, since so many processes and procedures reside in the memories of previous board members. The irony is that not even information managers (which is the case in this association) are always good at documenting knowledge to ensure its smooth transfer. Documenting processes and procedures is admittedly dull work, especially since it is often easier to simply rely on memory rather than take the time to document them. A lack of documentation can make it difficult to separate procedures from actual policies. Further, relying on memory can serve to fossilize procedures; so, for example, one person might have decided to implement a process that was appropriate for a particular context and time, only to have that process become part of the status quo (we’ve always done it that way), even if the original context no longer applies. Documentation can provide valuable background and context to procedures which, in turn, allows us to evaluate whether these procedures continue to be valid and relevant.