Documenting Systems to Enable Scaling

In this, The Faces of Business, Jason Helfenbaum, CTDP, President, ClicKnowledge, talks about documenting systems to enable scaling because of more efficient and better-prepared employees, standardized practices, and increased organizational resilience.

In this, The Faces of Business, Jason Helfenbaum, CTDP, President, ClicKnowledge, talks about documenting systems to enable scaling because of more efficient and better-prepared employees, standardized practices, and increased organizational resilience.

Jason helps businesses develop systems by documenting all organizational processes and institutional knowledge to make it available to anyone who requires it. He creates customized training solutions that improve employee and customer satisfaction and engagement, project and implementation success, performance and efficiency, adherence to policies and procedures, and certification programs.

Jason is an instructional designer and technical writer with over twenty years of experience creating customized content solutions. He sees every project as an opportunity to reinvent what he creates and how he creates it and to redefine what he and his company, ClicKnowledge, have to offer.

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Jason works with his instructional designers, technical writers, and developers to create comprehensive solutions ranging from complex e-learning and blended learning solutions to simple user guides.

Damon warmly welcomes Jason to his show, setting an engaging tone for the following insightful discussion. The host invites the guest’s comments on his professional background and “how he got into helping companies document their systems and processes.”

Jason reveals that his professional journey encompasses creating customized training solutions for Fortune 500 companies, focusing on addressing the challenge of knowledge loss when employees leave. He aims to leverage existing knowledge for growth and assist business owners in overcoming obstacles. Jason emphasizes the importance of strategic thinking and advocates for the Pareto principle, suggesting that 80% of time should be devoted to strategy while 20% should be allocated to operations. His approach involves documenting company processes to facilitate knowledge transfer and enable self-sufficiency.

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Damon agrees with Jason’s perspective on the importance of avoiding duplication of effort. He reflects on the common dilemma faced by business owners engrossed in day-to-day operations, constantly worried about timeliness and functionality.

Jason discusses the common tendency to be reactive rather than proactive, acknowledging that we all fall into this trap. He advocates for a clear mission or vision as a guiding force. While recognizing that external circumstances may occasionally steer us off course, he emphasizes the importance of having that vision as a plowshare or guidepost. He refers to a quote by Yogi Berra, suggesting that without a clear destination in mind, we are likely to end up somewhere unintended and possibly quite quickly.

Damon poses an insightful question to Jason regarding the meaning and role of an instructional designer. Jason explains that he creates courses and training materials as an instructional designer by repurposing other people’s expertise. He uses his unique superpower to make complex concepts more accessible and applicable to others, even if he lacks the same expertise in a particular field.

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Damon raises an intriguing point, expressing his appreciation for Jason’s ability to transform someone’s knowledge into an understandable format for others to grasp and utilize. Jason brings an outside perspective to his work, reflecting on what clients share and asking persistent “why?” questions. By challenging established practices and avoiding groupthink, he repurposes a piece of information to maximize its effectiveness. Arguably, Jason identifies three key issues in businesses:

  1. “Brain drain,” where the owner holds all the knowledge.
  2. Employees hoarding knowledge for job security.
  3. Resistance to new employees learning from experienced ones.

Damon acknowledges the value of Jason’s documentation efforts, comparing them to lean business improvement practices. He appreciates Jason’s efficiency and highlights the need for companies to function independently of good employees.

Jason says that serving and building trust with clients through complimentary consultations is essential. He focuses on understanding their immediate concerns and long-term growth potential rather than financial metrics. By aligning individuals with the company’s future and inviting them to be part of the vision, the issue of holding the company hostage can be mitigated. Jason believes fostering open communication and collective ownership of the vision can lead to a stronger, more cohesive workforce and reduce potential threats.

Damon discusses the benefits of documented systems that provide clarity and enable employees to understand their roles and responsibilities.

Jason furthers Damon’s point of view. In his view, the lack of clarity in organizational competencies and expectations causes a disconnect between owners and employees. He advocates for clearly defining roles, empowering employees, and investing in employee training and development.

Similarly, the guest answers the question “What’s in it for them?” when developing training programs or initiatives. He shares an example from a Fortune 500 company where the focus was solely on teaching the software without considering employee benefits. Jason emphasizes that understanding individual motivations and addressing the “what’s in it for me” aspect is crucial for success.

Damon asks Jason about the transformations he observes when he works on projects involving documentation in areas that lack organization. He wants to know the positive changes and improvements from the documentation process and working with the employees.

Damon asks Jason about the transformations and improvements he observes when he works on projects involving documentation in areas that lack organization.

Jason replies that he adopts a phased approach to documentation projects, starting with a high-level overview of the company and refining it until clients can confidently leave for a month and return to a smoothly functioning organization. He emphasizes the importance of aligning tasks and roles within the company. Clients often experience relief and increased clarity after the documentation process.

Moreover, Apologies for the oversight. Here’s a revised summary:

Jason takes a phased approach to documentation projects, providing a 30,000-foot view of the company’s operations and aligning tasks and roles. Through this process, he has observed significant improvements in client organizations. Clients experience a sense of relief and increased clarity as they comprehensively understand their company’s functioning. They realize the multitude of moving parts within their operations and appreciate the value of having explicit documentation. By solidifying processes and making them more visible, clients become excited to use the documented procedures, improving efficiency and effectiveness.

Jason notes that many people fail to give written instructions clearly. By asking questions about the audience, such as their abilities, literacy level, and preferences, one can tailor the instructions to their specific needs.

Damon asks Jason a question about using unconventional methods to document processes effectively during training. He expresses curiosity about the innovative approaches Jason has encountered that deviate from traditional documentation methods.

In response, Jason shares examples of unique approaches his team has taken. One example involves creating hover-enabled cheat sheets that provide detailed information when users hover their mouse over specific sections. Another example includes designing a training website that mimicked the appearance of a software platform for seamless learning.

Damon requests Jason to talk about the role of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in their work and whether they are starting to integrate these technologies into documentation and real-world applications.

Jason reveals that he has observed an increasing use of augmented reality (AR) in training, especially among Fortune 500 companies. However, he emphasizes the importance of prioritizing functionality over novelty. He cautions against adopting AR solely because it seems exciting and instead encourages using effective and suitable technologies for the intended purpose. He also makes a light-hearted reference to the importance of safety in certain scenarios, comparing it to a humorous anecdote about flying planes.

Jason talks about the challenges he has come across in documenting systems. These challenges include addressing specific client requirements, building trust, overcoming cold feet during deal closures, and assisting owners in defining their identity after exiting.

Toward the show’s conclusion, Jason shares a story about a family business where the husband resisted documenting processes because he believed he couldn’t be replaced. To address this, Jason suggested a test for the wife to observe and categorize tasks as “could” or “should” be done. He highlights the importance of owners keeping a list of tasks and evaluating their necessity.

The show ends with Damon thanking Jason for his precious time.

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45:47

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

documenting, company, owner, talk, create, process, jason, question, business, give, documentation, work, training, piece, employees, point, good, vision, arguably, augmented reality

SPEAKERS

Jason Helfenbaum, Damon Pistulka

 

Damon Pistulka  00:00

Welcome once again to the faces of business. I am your host, Damon Pistulka. And I am excited for our guests today, because we have Jason helfen bomb in here talking about documenting systems to enable scaling. Jason, welcome.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  00:17

Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. Well, Jason,

 

Damon Pistulka  00:21

I’m excited to talk about this topic, because people may not know the importance of this until they listen to this discussion. But I’ve seen this personally, that the difference, good documentation makes them processes in business. So let’s start this off, like we always do. Let’s talk about your background, Jason, and how you got into helping companies document their systems and processes.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  00:47

So I’m going to give you two answers, actually, the short one and the long one nice. And the the long one is sort of gets into the psyche. So people like like, I don’t know, they might run so it just even though it’s live? Well, let’s go with it. So the short answer is, I used to work mostly with Fortune 500 companies creating customized training solutions.

And it could be you know, we need to train our people in some sort of soft skill thing or a hard skill thing or help, we are reacting to something like we bought a piece of software, customize it to death, and now no one knows how to use it. But regardless, like what I was seeing all the time was the threat of the brain drain. Yeah, Damien’s been with the firm, 10 years, David just left, oh, my God, what are we going to do? And so rather than have a doom and gloom and a fear attitude, I decided to sort of leverage that in a positive light, as far as how can we use existing knowledge to leverage growth?

So that’s the short answer. The long answer is, I was really frustrated as a kid, because I was constantly being told in my report card, that Jason has a very bright student who’s not living up to his potential. And what was missing from that is guidance as far as how I can live up to my potential.

So it’s a very frustrating experience. And I think a lot of us, especially and I am part of this camp, because I am one business owners kind of feel lonely at the top. Yes. And really, what I’m trying to do is help them get out of their own way. And I’ll expand upon that just for a second, I would maintain that if you want to be successful, if you want to scale your business, if you want to grow it, you have to focus on the strategy.

Because if you’re not strategic, you’re just sort of reacting to what’s going on. And there’s this concept called The Pareto principle, also known as the 8020 rule. And so we would argue that most people should spend 80% of their time in strategy and 20% Ops. And guess what business owners doing the exact opposite.

They’re spending all day nine to five, putting out fires deal with operational stuff. And then, you know, at 10 o’clock, when they’re half dead, they’re thinking, Okay, how do I grow the business? And so what documenting a company does, is it right sizes it, and it gets the information out of your head and into the company, so that other people can do what you can do.

 

Damon Pistulka  03:22

Yeah, yeah. duplication of effort allows you to have others do what what you were originally doing. Awesome, awesome. Awesome, because that’s so that’s so key, what you’re saying right there. If I’m just thinking about businesses, thinking about myself thinking about other business owners, you are you get so stuck in the operations that you’re worrying about, hey, are the trains run on time?

Do we have, you know, things working, right, what’s going on here? Where do I need to be? And then at the end of the day, when you’re like, hey, I really need to be focused on the next level. How are we getting there? What are we doing? You have no energy to do it?

 

Jason Helfenbaum  04:03

Yeah, totally. And like I said, we’d like to think we’re all guilty of this. We like to think we’re proactive. We end up being reactive, we react to the market, we react to what someone said. But you know, if you have that mission or a vision that’s guiding you, you might get taken off course a bit here or there because of circumstances that happen.

But if you have that as your ploughshare your guidepost, and I’m speaking, of course, outside documentation, but just on that high level, if you have that vision, you’re gonna get what you want, as opposed to what what’s that Yogi Berra saying? If you don’t know where you’re going, you get there pretty quickly.

 

Damon Pistulka  04:38

Yes. Yes, that’s a good one. Yes. So you are in your year information, you talk about being an instructional designer. What does that mean?

 

Jason Helfenbaum  04:54

I’m still figuring that out myself. Basically, what that means is I’m also seen on a high level and explained in more detail. It means I create courses. So all those healing things you’ve been through or if you’re a profession, that continuing education credits you’ve sat through, hopefully you’ve enjoyed and haven’t fallen asleep during them. That was created by an instructional designer. And the way I describe myself is I don’t have any expertise. But I have a superpower.

And my superpower is taking other people’s expertise and repurposing in such a way that other people can use apply it. So the example I like to give I’m a little bit brashly when I say this, I can’t code to save my life. But I can create a better user guide than a developer can. And I’m probably not as effective as sales as a sales manager. But I’m willing to bet that if I interview a sales manager, I could probably create using his or her knowledge and more effective sales program and make good sales training. Excuse me.

 

Damon Pistulka  05:59

Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s, that’s cool. Because you bring that you bring that experience of how do you take what someone knows, and put it into an understandable format for the next person?

 

Jason Helfenbaum  06:14

Exactly, exactly. It’s interesting, you know, like, people have pointed out that the best athletes in the world have sometimes become the worst coaches. And it’s because they don’t understand. And I’m not saying that sales managers understand salespeople. But I bring that outside perspective. And when I work with my clients sometimes because I couldn’t the nostril initial complimentary consult. They say, Oh, you’re like a business coach. And I say, No, I’m across between a mirror and a two year old.

And they say, what does that mean? I say, Well, I just reflect back what you told me. And I just asked that really annoying question of why? You know, why do you do it that way? Oh, because we’ve always done it that way. Okay, that’s great. Why? And so as an outsider’s perspective, I’m not subject to groupthink. I’m asking you to explain yourself, it has to make cogent sense to me. And then I’m going to take that and repurpose in such a way that makes it as effective as possible.

 

Damon Pistulka  07:10

Yeah. Yeah. Because asking the why you can clear through what’s really what’s factual, actual, and what’s not. And then you can then lay that out so people can understand what’s going on or what they need to do. Awesome. Awesome. We’re, there’s a lot to cover here. A lot to cover here. So as you know, no, I’m just I got a bunch of notes here. And I’m trying to go where should I start? Because this, you covered one thing that I think is is so key that I didn’t even have written down, but I wrote it down. It’s brain drain. I mean, we we have so many people that are retiring.

And especially in manufacturing is one of the areas that I spent a fair amount of time. And there, you know, so many people retiring, and that knowledge is gone. And it’s it’s known fact, and in any business, it is really so explain kind of how what you’re doing helps to get that to the next, the next generation or the next people that need to know.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  08:18

Sure. So let me talk about on three, let me identify three problems I see. And then I’ll talk and I can capsulate. All three. This is more typical in smaller businesses where the, the brain drain issue is the owner, the owner knows everything. And noise does, right. And it’s sort of this love hate relationship, like, oh, I have to do X Y Zed. Well watch it to someone else. But no one knows how well have you enabled anyone to know how, whatever it’s, we can get into that. Number two, my wife hates it when I use this term, but I’ll use it anyway. It’s when people hold the company hostage.

They have job security, because they know that the only ones who know something. And I definitely let me preface this by saying I do not like working with companies that say, you know, you know, stuck his brain and then thought let’s fire him. That’s not my intention is to you know, focus again, Pareto Principle, what are the 80% of the things that he does that other people should do? And what are the 20% that he or she should be doing and we can sort of hone in on that expand his capacity.

The third thing is sort of funny is like you’ll have someone who’s been at the company 10 years and looking at a rookie and go Yeah, one day he’ll get it. You know, I’ve been here 15 years but your typical figured out am I answer my question is sorry, this What does you have to wait? What is he you know, Mark Twain, I believe it was experienced as a very ineffective teacher. Like, why does he have to learn by his or her own mistakes?

Why can’t he be out. So really just speaking in a blanket terms, what you really want to do is centralize institutionalize information on one level, on a second level going back, especially to the owner, especially when they want to exit, they want to exit the business. And what I say to them, and I’m sort of half joking half not is, well, you either need me or a brain surgeon, and I’m a lot less expensive and a lot less painful.

Because at the end of the day, they have a great product, a great service, a great idea, a great soft concept, maybe packaged a bit of sales, bit of marketing. But at the end of the day, it’s not really a bonafide company. It’s an IP, it’s an idea, it’s a product, and all that stuff is not independent. Right, you need to get it to a point where if it’s really a healthy company, it’s not dependent on any one person.

It’s not dependent on the sales guy, it’s not dependent on the guy who makes the product, then on the owner, if one of them were to go on vacation for a month, if it’s a function company should function fine without them. And so really, to answer that question, you need to get to a point where I mean, I think we understand on a basic level, if you own a company, you have your corporate account, you have your own personal bank account, they’re distinct, you don’t, they’re not enmeshed.

But I think sometimes when we especially build it with our own bare hands, we a lot of pride, we do get in meshed. And if you want to exit, I mean, I’m sure this is speaking your language, you need to understand that the company is a separate entity from you. And you have to start thinking that way. And you have to start building that way.

 

Damon Pistulka  11:40

Yeah, it’s, I was just on a live stream earlier today, where they were asking that same question, you know, what are the what are the three things that that prevent the sale of business, and one of them is the dependency on the owner, or their key to the business. And you what you’re talking about is enabling others to do what the owner currently does is, is one of the most critical factors in in successfully selling a business because you can’t do it if you if the owners walk away with, with all the knowledge, what’s left? Yeah, that’s I mean, that’s the thing, and we’ve seen it in small companies.

But we’ve also seen it in large companies $50 million, plus revenue year companies, because if you have, if you had really good owners that are technically really talented in their areas, that can that can be just as bad as it is for a small company, and, and depress the value so much, even if they do get offers, that it’s not going to be something that the owners would ever accept.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  12:44

Yeah, I mean, like, but even nevermind, the owner, I’ll give you an example. It’s a true story. I don’t know the people involved was a friend of mine who was involved in it. He’s an HR consultants, you know, the lottery bust principle really happened, there was a software company, that Chief developer died of a heart attack over the weekend. And they couldn’t find or access the source code, and they had to literally reverse engineer their product.

 

Damon Pistulka  13:07

Wow. Yeah, that’s,

 

Jason Helfenbaum  13:11

so I don’t want to scare people. But just imagine, you know, a lot of times you surround yourself with great people. But just imagine what is the scenario if they’re gone tomorrow? Yeah. Right. How does the business carry on?

 

Damon Pistulka  13:24

Yes, well, and to the other thing, that that really what you’re, what you’re bringing up and what I see in some of the other places where we not to the extent of the way you’re, you’re documenting and doing things, but we used to use that kind of investigation and clarification on processes and procedures in in lean business improvement, because you have to know who’s doing what, to figure out how you’re going to restructure things, and what you’re doing, I think, is a great foundational effort in that.

And you probably can get it done much, much faster than then people that are that are relatively inexperienced at doing it so that we can move to the companies can move to the next phase of that, where we redesign our processes to be much better once we know what they are. Because if you like you said somebody could get hit by a bus and be gone the next day, but absent of that, and they’re still there tomorrow, how how is this beneficial to us to make our company exponentially better if we if we really use the data and understand it?

Yeah, cool stuff, cool stuff, and then holding the company hostage, and I mean, that’s, that’s a that’s a big one as well, because and I understand people they work hard to get to gain their skills and some of that and but at the end of the day, the company has to be able to operate if that person walks in way or, God forbid, something happens to him.

And that’s that’s really where that comes into play as they got to be able to support that company’s got, okay, we’ll move on your example of rewriting the code is so critical or so relevant because, yeah, I’ve been in situations where people like, you know, in, in manufacturing where someone that’s they’re doing a programming for something and they’re they’re gone on vacation and nobody else knows what what’s happening in a program and something stops. Yeah, oh my goodness, you know, but I can’t imagine that having a reverse engineer code. So

 

Jason Helfenbaum  15:40

kind of slight left turn on you there for a second, I

 

Damon Pistulka  15:42

do not do speak

 

Jason Helfenbaum  15:43

to a point about taking people that people are taking the company hostage. And I want to speak to that on a broader level that is, arguably beyond the scope of what I do. Yeah, like I mentioned, I do a complimentary consultation.

And what I’m trying to do is, I have a couple of mantras in business, one of them is how can I be of service to you? And so part of the way I’d be of service and earn trust to give that complimentary consult? And well, I’m just gonna ask a bunch of questions. I don’t care about revenue, I don’t care about EBITA. I don’t care about any of that stuff. I care about what’s going to threaten orange shoot, keep your lights on today, and how can you scale and grow?

And so I’m gonna ask a bunch of questions. One of the questions like to ask, as this is a heads up for whoever wants a complimentary console, because this question becoming, I asked, What’s your vision or mission, and more often than not, people say, Yeah, I haven’t written down somewhere and I go, Whoa, if it’s not in your head, and on your heart, it’s not a real vision and mission. And where I’m going with this, to go back to the hostage thing is not only do you have to have a vision and mission, but you got to share it with your team, and you all have to collectively own it.

And so, to the Getting back to the hostage, if you show someone where their future is with you, as not because you know, this piece of information, but because I see a future, and you’re part of it, and I need you to stop focusing on ABC and just focus on V and give ANC to people, other people, then it’s not an issue. Right? Because you’re part of my vision, I see the future, stop doing that come with me, we’re gonna grow together. And I think if more companies had those kinds of conversations, you would have less of a threat.

 

Damon Pistulka  17:31

Yes, yes. Yes, I think I think that’s a big help in, in changing people’s minds about and getting them to actually want to be going forward the vision. And, and unfortunately, on the flip side of that, I’ve seen some people that listen to it, they understand where you want to go, and they don’t want to go.

And, and for a lot of different reasons. And that’s cool. That’s, that’s cool. You know, because everyone, everyone configure can can make their own choices, whether they want to be on the bus or not on the bus at any given time. And I think that what what you’re doing, though, as you’re documenting these systems, so that people like you said, we can get the right people doing the right things.

It’s, it makes things easier, because people can understand. I mean, the big thing that I see when you have undocumented systems is a lot of people go to work and don’t know, did I do what I was supposed to do today? Did I do enough of it? And and and am I going to go and a good job. I mean, so we talk about things like we’re talking about documenting for scaling, I’m talking about employee engagement, we’re happiness in the workplace.

I mean, people want to do a good job. And if they don’t know what that looks like, yeah, through documentation, I can see what what my good job for me looks like, you know, you know my case I use this it’s so funny because I use this example a lot with with people I say, if Damien’s the guy that’s supposed to empty the trash cans in the building, and I know that if I empty 27 trash cans every day, I’ve done a good job. How much different is that? Then you just say Damon empty the trash cans.

And I go on empty the ones I think and I might get 20 I might get five and no one really says anything. But if you sit down you say Damon, you need it. Here’s your 27 Crush ganz if you empty 27 everyday, that’s a good job. That’s what we want to do. Because the documentation that you’re doing is is Jason is helping them understand this and I think it’s increases employee engagement and happiness and just sense of well being and what they’re doing and they can then feel a part of that mission and vision. Agree.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  19:54

I’m gonna use two words that I use all the time that are arguably interchangeable because I’m I’d say anecdotally, the number one frustration I see is in within workplaces is this disconnect between owners and their employees. And the two words I want to use are competencies and expectations. And not enough organizations spell out what their competencies and expectations are their employees and how they’re being measured by it. And having employees clearly understand how they can contribute, again, gets back to the vision. So here’s my vision. And here’s your piece.

And here’s what I need you to excel at. And here’s how we’re going to empower you to excel. I think this is just me get a soapbox for a second, arguably, I think we stigmatize ignorance too much. And if you have good employees, but they don’t know how to do something, but they can be trained, why not train them? Why don’t invest in them. And again, get back to that vision, here’s why seven, three months, usually seen in six months, and we’re gonna create knowledge base and training around that to help you get there.

 

Damon Pistulka  21:01

Yeah, they can see how they can progress within the company within their role within you know, it’s it. It works so well. And I just love how you’re tying, you know, documenting these systems, these processes and procedures together into the, into helping the person the employee, be a better contributor, contributor to the organization.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  21:27

Yeah, I think, again, these podcasts are interesting, because you talk and ultimately talk about yourself, and you sort of feel a little uncomfortable at the same time, you want to share things. So I’ll say this. There’s too many times I’ve been involved in Fortune 500 training projects, where you’re in the boardroom, and you’re talking about things that affect people the front line.

And I invariably asked this question, and the responses are not very good. I put it this way, I say, we’re creating a training program for someone else. And if we cannot answer the question, what’s in it for them, training will fail, because we motivate them to want to do it. So for example, I was working with a fortune 500.

They just bought some new call center software that we need to develop training on as Okay, great. Let’s develop a marketing piece and speaking embedded in the training as far as what are the advantages of this new software? Right, give me I’m sure you did your due diligence, why you left vendor a went to vendor B and didn’t go with vendor C, send me a list. I’ll build training around that.

So it’s embedded in that? And they said, Yeah, but they need to know the software. And that’s it. And I said, okay, and I was just not even foolish, I asked the same question a different way. I understand that. However, Baba Baba, may have just said, it’s nice to have the software. And so if you can’t answer that question for every person on every level of what’s in it for me, you will not succeed. And if you if there is no answer, maybe you shouldn’t proceed.

 

Damon Pistulka  23:04

Yes, because they have to want to do it at the end of the day. Yeah, they have to want to do it, there has to be a reason behind it that creates that, that desire for them to do it, whether it’s going to make their life better, where it’s gonna allow them to be more productive, earn more money, whatever it is, there’s got to be a reason behind it. Otherwise, you’re gonna have very slow, very difficult adoption,

 

Jason Helfenbaum  23:29

you will have very difficult adoption, arguably high turnover. And you might say, well, it’s part of the job, they just have to do it. But again, if you dig a little bit, dig into your vision, difficult your mission? It’s not too hard.

 

Damon Pistulka  23:41

Yeah, yeah. So as you’re working through these, through these projects, and you’re, you’re walking into this place, and it’s just Shambles in in terms of documentation. What are some of the transformations that you see when you go through an area and you you’ve gone? You go step by step through an area and you’ve completed the documentation and gone through the work with the people? What are some of the transformations that you see?

 

Jason Helfenbaum  24:09

It’s great question. So I’d say what we like to do is do small engagements with our clients. Because we like to build trust over time. And we’d like to see quick results, as opposed to yeah, we’ll get back to in eight months at that point, yeah, see something. So the first thing we do once they decide to engage your services is what we call a mind map, which is basically a 30,000 foot view of the entire company. Now, I don’t care what you do, I don’t care what the titles are and how many people you have in the company. Everyone’s going to fit into one silo and other whether it’s sales, admin, marketing, ops, whatever, right?

Whether you’re Coca Cola or this like lawn service s3 employees, and if you’re the guy who answered the phones and writes the bills, it still functions you have. And so the first thing we do is give them that 30 foot file On foot view of the company of their company, and sort of say, Okay, here’s everything that sales does. Here’s everything that marketing does. And we don’t get down to what I would call keystroke level but high level. And the key question we ask them at this point is okay, assuming we got from the 30,000 foot view down to 100 foot level with everything was really explicit.

Could you go to Bora Bora for one month with no internet and still come back to a company? Yes or no? And if the answer’s no, that we haven’t done our job. And then we go back, if necessary, until it’s and we’re not only doing that what we’re also doing, because all sometimes as misalignments interesting is we looking at tasks within the company. And then roles with the company, make sure they’re aligned.

Like if someone says they do all these 12 things, we make sure this task as far as the company is concerned. And likewise, that there’s like 300 tasks, we make sure those 15 employees are covering all those tasks. Yeah, we have a gap. And usually, it’s funny, like, I have clients that don’t have that many employees, we’ll look at what we did to make up. Oh, my God, I realize how many moving parts we have. Yes, oh, my God, we do a lot. That’s like, yeah, the call, right. And then what usually happens with our clients is they have a sense of relief, because my manager is telling me once and they never tell anyone ever again.

The other thing, getting back to the outsider view is I had a client where I was documenting a sales process. And it was his process. And when we were finished, he was so excited is that oh my god, I can’t wait to use this. As I use it. It’s you is Yeah, but it wasn’t so like solidified and front and center the way you made it. Right, subconscious, but we sort of pulled it out and forced him to use it,

 

Damon Pistulka  27:01

that’s a, that’s a great point. Because a lot of people follow a process. And while it’s on documented processes, right, it’s they follow this in business. And it could be some pieces can be very good. But when you don’t have a document and you’re not trained according to the documentation, consistency, and and, and, you know, come back in into consistency and quality of that process are just so much better when you when you have the the process flow and the checks to go okay, here, we’re going to stop here and make sure we’ve got this and we’re going to check off the box or whatever it is, go to the next step.

You know, and that’s I can see where somebody’s saying that because you probably intuitively as an instructional designer had had points to go, Okay, we’ve done this, this and this. Yep. Now we’re ready to go do this. And that’s the that’s the piece that an anon documented process, you can inevitably miss one of those steps. And in

 

Jason Helfenbaum  28:02

one of the tests I used to do whenever someone wants to work for me, I would have a two part test. Part one was really interesting. Talk about undocumented features, I want see what the writing was. And I’ve had people who had zero background who were phenomenal, and people with like, very extensive CVS, I gave this test, I was very underwhelmed.

And the test was this, I want you to write me instructions on how to draw a square. And it seems so mind numbingly simple until you have to do it. And the interesting thing is, I’ve never seen two sets look the same. Everyone has a very, very different idea of how to draw square. And some of them arguably, if you don’t know how to draw a square, you wouldn’t be able to draw a square based on these instructions, you wouldn’t you don’t have enough information, etc, etc. So it’s just really interesting, speaking of undocumented or in your head to see that play out in that way.

 

Damon Pistulka  28:59

Yes. And it can it can, like you said, it’s the simple processes can be very, very difficult to document. Super. It doesn’t really matter, you know? That’s a cool, that’s a cool test. Because I bet you’ve got some people that you got blank paper back.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  29:20

Yeah, no, but I’ll tell everyone is secret. Most people fail the first part of the test. And the first part of the test is not to do the instructions were to ask me questions about the instructions. Who am I writing the square for? Why don’t know how to draw a square? Should they be allowed to draw square? Are they literate? Can they read the visual? These are all kinds of questions that you need to ask so that you make sure you know, like, for example, like just to give you two extremes.

We’ve worked with law firms and their readwrite types and they’re very white, a lot of detail and it’s very text heavy. We’ve had people in manufacturing where we ended up just making a bunch of laminated sheets, because a laptop or last half a minute before got squashed. And or we did a lot of video stuff because English was a challenge for these people. So it’s really about I mean, you know, just let everyone in on a secret. The first thing is with any kind of writing, whether it’s education, not know your audience.

 

Damon Pistulka  30:27

Yeah, and then, like you’re saying, adapt the methods of training to the audience? Absolutely. So cool. So cool. So, as you’re doing this, what are some of the things that you’ve seen? Where were you gone? Wow, that is really, really an interesting way to, you know, carry out this, this. And I’m not saying documentation, but just to, like you said, use of video use of, of pictures, whatever else to, to document a process in a way that we wouldn’t normally think of. But it was a unique way that worked really? Well?

 

Jason Helfenbaum  31:11

That’s a really good question. I have to think about that. I mean, one thing my team and I constantly do is, we try to reinvent ourselves. So we always have a new project. I’ll give you an example of one that just happened recently, we were hired to create a bunch of cheat sheets, to the guy went in a lot of detail.

The Interview, usually, general rule takes maybe an hour or two to extract most information on a given process or area. And then at this bit of follow up, usually, I will write what I call top five emails where I’ll write a very extensive question. They could just say yes or no to hopefully not need to give an essay answer this for these cheat sheets, it took us six hours in interviewing him, which is a lot.

And so when we extracted the information, it ended up being like a page manual. Because it went to such detail. And so what wasn’t me, I’ll be honest, as my writer came up, that was brilliant. She created it in Word, and created the hover feature. So it was just like, here’s bullets fits on one page, you move your mouse over and all the details appear. Oh, wow. Right. So it’s exactly like that. Yeah. Things we’ve done also is like we were doing a workday implementation years ago, and we create a website that looks just like Workday, except there was a training site. That’s cool. You know, so it’s, it’s not for us.

It’s it’s it’s never seen Been there done that because the project may appear to be have the same attributes. But what is difference? Are the industry is different, or the need is different. And it’s, it’s really about Thank you for saying it’s cool. For me, what’s most important is to say, Okay, what’s going to best serve? And the way we do that if we can reverse engineer, so what outcome do we want? And based on that, what input we need to create to get that outcome?

 

Damon Pistulka  33:20

Yeah, like you said, knowing your audience to is, is huge. In that process.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  33:26

What I like to say all the time is the only metric I really care about is this as an instructional designer, and as a business owner, is I only care about three letters, which is ROI. Right? And so regardless of what I’m creating, it’s either going to give me more money, less expense, more time, something, something that we could tangibly measure that makes us say, this is worth pursuing. Because if we can’t call it that it’s not worth pursuing.

 

Damon Pistulka  33:55

Yeah. So in your, in your work in this, are you seeing that augmented reality or virtual reality is starting to play? You know, not maybe not so much in the documentation? But is it starting to play a piece and tying that into the documentation into the real world of you know, in the in the physical world because I, this has swam in my head for so many years now? Of the possibilities?

 

Jason Helfenbaum  34:26

I think augmented reality yeah, I’ve started to see it more and more in training and quite frankly, I’m seeing it more in the Fortune five hundreds, right, because it’s hard again, it gets down to price point. Oh, yeah. Right. It’s hard to and I try to avoid and I’m not suggesting you’re going on this route, but I try to avoid what sexy in favor of what works right.

So if you are doing augmented reality where you need to because let’s say for argument’s sake, we want you pilots to fly planes We probably could be wrong, but we probably want them to crash and augmented reality plane is a real one. Right? Yes. Yes. Sort of like that bad joke I when I die well, my sleep like my father and not like his passengers as he went off the cliff, right?

 

Damon Pistulka  35:14

Yeah.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  35:17

But I think augmented reality has its place. I think as time goes on that technology will become cheaper and every man will access it. I don’t think it’s quite there yet, but it’s getting there.

 

Damon Pistulka  35:32

Yeah, I think about things like when in manufacturing or in servicing, say I’m say I’m with a large company like Caterpillar, right. And I have multi $100,000 pieces of equipment all over the globe. And I, I have somebody in the middle of, say, wherever that needs to fix a piece of equipment or simply service, that piece of equipment, and how documenting a process through augmented reality and just giving that person like some goggles or something to be able to go, Okay, this is where you lubricate here.

And it sees you’re doing it, it says, yep, check I lubricated there. I mean, I think that that how much skill, that is not just skill, I’m not, that’s not the right way to say it, how much errors it will take out of those kinds of things, and how much better their equipment would perform, because the maintenance or the just the troubleshooting would go so much more smoothly.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  36:31

Exactly. And especially if you talk about multiple plants in multiple locations. If you have augmented reality, then geography is not an issue anymore, right?

 

Damon Pistulka  36:40

Yes, yes, I just, you were thinking about it. and I were just talking, I kind of got off the boat here. But it’s it’s something that I think, you know, when we look at different ways you started talking about video, you started talking about the way that using a Word document with a hover, I think there’s there there are so many more opportunities now for us to really take this, these this documentation and not just simply have it written down on a piece of paper in a book or on a computer, like you said in the in the pictures or video that they can they can just download or look at when they want to.

So as as you guys are are going out and about now, what are some of the biggest challenges you see with documenting processes and procedures?

 

Jason Helfenbaum  37:27

Hmm. I think some of the challenges I see is that the challenge is not with documentation itself, but the process itself to your point. Right, and it gets back to I said before being of service to people. So I may look at someone that wants to hire me and say I’m more than happy to work with you. But you need this fractional CFO first this fractional CFO first. The other thing I see is trust factor. Right, like I said before, and you know, it’s interesting, I’ll sort of talk about this as well.

I’ve heard from a number of people in the m&a space, is it the 11th hour? The deal doesn’t close because the owner has cold feet. Because they suddenly realized, Oh, my God, I’m really doing this. And do I really want to do this? Yeah. Right. And so I think it’s a longer answer, I’ll say this is, is I say a challenge is having in an exit scenario, having the owner understand what his or her significance is host exit? In other words, if I see myself as an owner, and now not an owner, who am I? And you have to answer that question.

 

Damon Pistulka  38:49

Yes. Yeah. Yes, that was and I think as, as you talked about previously, earlier in the conversation about getting that, that information out of the owners mind, and, and allowing them to enable others to do what they thought they may not have been able to do before, is is one of the first steps on that process, because then they see themselves differently in the business.

And you have to keep them in that spot enough to see themselves differently, again, outside of the business and what life after that looks like. Yeah, totally, because because you’re right. The owners that don’t take that time to do that will inevitably get cold feet, many times even good offers and everything just because they simply don’t know. What’s next for them. And this is comfortable.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  39:43

Yeah, as they say, right.

 

Damon Pistulka  39:46

Yeah. That’s great. That’s great. So as you look forward to the future, documenting systems, what are some of the cool technologies that you guys are implementing as far as you know, maybe enjoy Testing information collaboration, what’s what’s going on, you see that that’s interests you guys in what you’re doing.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  40:08

I mean, one of the tools we love right now is something called otter.ai, which is nice, the professional transcription software, that I find that very effective to just be able to take an interview and just transcribe it. I think that thing that’s on a lot of people’s minds is AI, and we’re sort of playing toying with it. I’m not seeing it. I think it’s in its infancy still. So I think it’s a conversation that will evolve. I’m kind of impressed and underwhelmed at the same time. Yeah, there’s,

 

Damon Pistulka  40:50

I’m no expert in AI, I play with it a lot, right. And I can tell you that if I was a coder, I probably would love it. And if I’m a marketer, it probably it may generate some ideas, but it’s really not. If you’re doing what you’re doing, and writing documentation, it may help you to clean up documents, I see there’s some things where it’s really effective at that sometimes, but it’s definitely not going to replace too many humans at this point. I’ll say, no, but

 

Jason Helfenbaum  41:20

just like, like, you know, I’ve been asked a lot on podcast, what do you think about AI? And I said, it’s like, asked me 1988 Where I think what the internet? Yeah, exactly. There

 

Damon Pistulka  41:29

you go. That’s always it. Yeah, it’s just starting. Right. And what did I cover? They released? You know, the first. Yeah.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  41:38

So you know, I don’t know.

 

Damon Pistulka  41:44

It’ll be interesting, though. Honestly, what how it can help us to, you know, do do a better job at what we’re doing is what I think will be interesting. You know, if it can, if it can help if you can help to feed a documented process into something, and it helps walk people through it more, I don’t know, there’s there’s a lot of opportunities, but like you said, it’s real early.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  42:06

Yeah. Yeah, I’m excited. It’s kind of interesting to see how it’s gonna affect my industry and others as well. But it’s pretty mature at this point. And yeah,

 

Damon Pistulka  42:15

yeah, very good. So what challenges are you seeing people uncover that they really didn’t know that they had and saw when they document their processes?

 

Jason Helfenbaum  42:35

Well, I think we touched on most of them. I’ll say one thing I’ll make it more succinct is, is people recognize the difference between what they could do versus what they should do.

 

Damon Pistulka  42:49

Right, that is, that is new, that is good.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  42:52

And what I’ve done with some people, I sometimes you invariably in family, businesses, become a marriage counselors, I’m sure we all do. And we deal with family business. And I have a prospect with a husband, his wife really wanted to hire me. And the husband was convinced he can’t be replaced, therefore, there’s no point in doing this. And, and I said, okay, and like, she was looking at me, like helping with him. And I was like, I can’t help you with him. He can help himself if he wants, but you know, yeah. So I said, I have a test for you.

If you think you want to work with me, I want you to walk around with a little notepad and a pen. And every time you put a task, you do a task once you write down the task and put a C, or s environment, which is could versus should, and show me what you came up with. He never got hacked. But if I can offer owners one takeaway, it’s just do that. Just keep a list of everything. Look at your calendar, look at what you do like your tasks, and ask yourself, Is this something I could do is just something I shouldn’t do?

 

Damon Pistulka  43:55

could or should? I love it? Right? Yeah. Yeah. That’s just awesome. Jason, it’s been great having you because I mean, you are obviously very experienced at helping people document their systems and processes and procedures into usable training for the next generation or others or even us to make sure that we continue doing the, the process the way we intended, as your example said, so how can people get a hold of you if they want to want to talk with you, Jason?

 

Jason Helfenbaum  44:30

So my company is click knowledge.com CLI, C K, and O W. Le D g.com. And if you put a forward slash booking on there, you can book a session with me or you can also reach me at Jason at quick knowledge.com or reach out to me on LinkedIn. Yeah, thank you so much. This was awesome.

 

Damon Pistulka  44:55

Yeah, yeah. Well, I, again, for the people that were listening, go go back and rewind this because Jason dropped some real, real golden gems in here about documenting processes and the importance some of the challenges you’re going to see. And if you need to talk to need to think about this talk about with Jason, go ahead and reach out to him on LinkedIn. Jason, thanks for being here today.

 

Jason Helfenbaum  45:19

Thanks. And again, I mean, I’m offering a free consults. So I would love to talk to anyone who thinks they may or may not need something, just love to be of service, whether it’s through me or through someone, I can introduce you to more than happy and thank you so much.

 

Damon Pistulka  45:33

Awesome. Awesome. Well, hold on for a minute, Jason. We’re gonna shut the show down for now and we’re gonna catch up and be done for the day. Thanks, everyone for listening, and we’ll be back again next week.

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