By Ivan Meakins with special guest Alexis Kingsbury
Ever wondered how some businesses scale so efficiently?
Fun fact: it doesn’t require you to be handcuffed to your desk 24/7.
When it comes to scaling businesses without sacrificing your wellbeing, few know how to do it better than Alexis Kingsbury, Co-founder of Airmanual – a platform that’s making process documentation easy and efficient.
He was the one handcuffed to work for years before learning how to break free by documenting workflows that people actually engage with.
But what makes any documentation good? And how do you make sure you’re mapping out your processes in the most engaging, collaborative way?
In this blog, we’ll uncover Alexis’ simple technique for documenting workflows in a way that fosters connection and understanding across your organisation.
Why should you document your workflow?
Alexis: “One of my favourite quotes from Peter Drucker says that no institution can survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organised in such a way that it can thrive under the leadership of average human beings.
As a leader, you’re probably super busy firefighting all the time. Perhaps you’re in a situation where parts of the business rely on you or other key individuals on your team. When you’re not around, the business either really struggles or suffers. Ultimately, you find yourself stuck in the business.
After studying other leaders who seemed to be crushing it, I started asking myself: how would I make it easy for anyone in the organisation to do this? That’s when it all started to click. We made it easy for people to find processes and document the stuff they were doing. This meant that anyone in the organisation could actually capture checklists and take on specific tasks.”
There’s a lot that goes into documenting processes within your business. For one, it shouldn’t be a mechanical list of instructions. Like every other piece of content you create, these workflows should be logical, easy to understand, and emotionally engaging.
Luckily, Alexis has a three-step technique for turning even the most boring technical processes into exciting checklists.
And it all begins with treating your workflow like it’s a piece of marketing copy that could elicit a massive emotional response from your audience.
P.S.: Check out our blog post on how to create amazing, emotive content.
Step 1: Think about your audience
Alexis: “It’s important to think about the people who’ll be reading your documentation. Who are they? Why would they use it? Why does it matter?”
These are core questions you’d typically ask when creating any piece of marketing content. However, they can also provide you with some much-needed clarity for properly documenting your workflow. When you keep your audience – in this case, your team members – front of mind, you’ll be able to make your workflow much more engaging.
Step 2: Make the steps clear and actionable
Alexis: “Once you’ve gotten clear on the basics, you then have the high-level structure of your checklist, which should contain the main steps and any additional detail needed. In marketing, this would be the equivalent of having a heading and subsequent paragraphs or sub-headings that go into much more detail.
In the past, when we used to have Word documents about 30 to 50 pages long, we realised that it took a lot of work for anyone to get a sense of what was going on. It involved a lot of scrolling, and it was difficult for people to follow the processes step-by-step.
So, instead, in Airmanual, we adopted a concertina-style approach to process checklists. This means that anyone can see all the steps very quickly at first glance, and then each step expands and shows more detail where needed.”
Step 3: Have a clear handoff
Alexis: “Just like you would in content marketing, make sure that your handoff (or call-to-action) is clear and action-oriented. For instance, if you want your reader to send a quote to a client and update the CRM after going through the checklist, that should be absolutely clear. This way, they know what the end of the process is, and there’s no room for confusion.”
Catering to different personality types
One thing that’s not often spoken about when it comes to documenting workflows – and other pieces of content – is how people tackle processes differently. While some people on your team may want to cut right to the chase and get things done (guilty!), others prefer to take their time and document every single detail.
But there’s a problem with these two spectrums.
You either end up with way too many details (which causes overwhelm) or a workflow with tons of missing pieces.
Luckily, there’s a way to find the Goldilocks Zone – that sweet spot that balances detail with clarity and conciseness.
Prioritise, Document, Test (PDT)
Alexis: “If you’re a business leader, start by identifying your biggest bottleneck and what type of guidance would make that easier. Pick any process that would have the most significant impact on your organisation. That’s your priority.
Now document it. Where do you need screenshots for added context? Where do you need the logic? Where have you made mistakes in the past that you don’t want others to repeat?
Finally, test it. Get someone on your team to go through it with you watching. This way, you’ll be able to identify any pitfalls and gaps that still need to be filled. At the end of the day, you get to a point where they can finally do it on their own. This means that in less than an hour and a half, you can hand over even the most complex tasks to people.
When you embrace the concept of PDT, everyone on opposite ends of the spectrum can come together and get things done.”
How do Alexis’ insights relate to you and your business? Are there any areas within your business that you can step away from through proper documentation? Are you documenting your workflows for maximum impact and efficiency?
If you’d like to get started on this journey, visit the Airmanual website for an easy way to systemise your business.
And if you’d like to develop your content journey and grow your audience, book a Clarity Call today to find out how our team of experts can help.