Off the records …

There is a phenomenon that leaves me behind wondering. I have no idea, why most people do not document.

No idea? Well, … no.
I have some guesses and assumptions, but no real clue.

Up to now, I am unable to explain, why only few people internalized documentation as a habit into their personality – me included.


While I was studying law, I was able to use some electronic devices to capture content of my lessons. That was not so common – back in the ’90ies.

Instead, I was writing down by hand, with a rotring ArtPen (M), in something like a ruled diary.
Long, long before this was kind of hip (“sketchnoting”) or a specific technique was spread via internet sources (“Cornell method”).

I do IT since back in the 80ies. I was astonished as I noticed upcoming of paper Notebooks in parallel to the availability of OneNote in the 00oes.

Years later, I heard from a friend, this method – he called it “from the hand into mind” – is the best way to memorize things, scientists found out.
Up to now, I frequently search for studies and articles about the phenomenon – whithout significant success so far.

/”95% of tasks could be automated”

I introduced this section with some words about taking notes by hand, because most of what I publish is digital from the very beginning.
Only a few sketchnotes and photocols I transfer via camera function of my Lumia 950 XL.
Analogue caption of thoughts is a pre-stage for publishing in my case.

From the earliest availability of “personal” computers and devices like the PalmPilot, I was faszinated by the efficiency improvements they offer.
Today, I am very near to the answer to the initial problem.
Efficiency is not the issue – effectivity is.

People, who are older than me and paved my way into the IT Business seem to still miss the point. I was one of the last, who is not a Digital Native. I had and often still have the choice and comparability between paper-bound processes and electronic forms. I was ignited by opportunities related to PDF-forms and the Microsoft Office product InfoPath. Because I started quite early, today I already noticed

Digitization is more than change of media

Gunter Dueck is one of these guys who (indirectly) paved my way. Today, he gives speeches and some other comments on the Digi-Biz.

In one of his older speeches he stated “95% of tasks could be automated – rest needs wisdom to decide”.
So far, so bad.
Yes, it is significant that only one person needs to be killed by an autonomous driving vehicle. Then the software-gap could be filled and all others benefit from this update. Thousands of lifes could be safed by vehicles driving autonomous.

Did nobody recognized the paradox behind, yet?

Wisdom is what results from frequent application of personally gained – internalized – knowledge. Wisdom results from deliberate practice – again and again.

If You automate, You will not practice. And if You automate from the very beginning, You will never learn to differ and distinguish.
It is the same as training muscles with gym equipment, with devices that fix Your moves, against training with free weights.

Automation from the beginning will lock Your abilities into the range defined by machines.
Elon Musk noticed recently. The experience cost some billion dollars, trust and reputation to proof this fail.
My personal coach was a little cheaper, indeed.


Another term, Guther Dueck uses is “process empathy”. This is something, I learned – orally – from Hans Brender. He was once very active behind the scenes of our main client. He gained valuable knowledge from drinking coffee at client’s headquarters in Germany. From these networking activities we achieved the ability to serve the organization with everything which was needed but could not be covered by internal staff.

Our knowledge about the gaps between divisions and Business units was the soil where the plants grew.
His gained empathy for responsibilities, score cards, and cash-flow processes made our Business smooth and running.

None of this knowledge was documented and every lesson I learned, I learned from him by oral tradition and personal sight – like in the old days of the Asian masters.

/mindful automation

Some of my readers already sighted the blog-section “mindful automation”. There I describe how I do manage my things. This is another thing I learned by “Mr. OneDrive” – Hans Brender.
Programmer as he is, he automated lots of tasks in his own and our shared Business. He intuitively did, what is called “Business Process Automation”, today. He spotted for the repeatable, ever same tasks and scripted them by Outlook rules and other tools. It took some negotiations and trainings with his communication partners. After these initial investments, he was able to manage things in minutes where others need hours for. The rest of these benefits resulted in our shared profits.

Some years ago – I was not yet on twitter – he told about an incident where he gave a speech. He is a speaker of high speed and lot of activity on the stage. Most of these activities are not slide related, so he is often away from any device during his speeches. Once, some people from his audience wondered how it could be that “he” is twittering while he is on stage in the very moment.


/Just do it!

Some of my high valued communication partners on twitter, per eMail or in prensence astonish me from time to time.
They say “I am doing quite the same. I have lots of stories to tell. Maybe, I should blog, too.”

Why don’t You do it?

Since somewhere in the beginning, I am documenting the meetups of agiLEipzig-community. The last one (#16) I missed out because of personal illness.
I saw a photocol, but were not able to gain significant insights from it. For me, framing context was missing. Maybe others miss it, too.
Why do I write about this incident?
Seems that if I do not document those events, nobody will. Everything what lasts, will last in memory of a few participants – and soon will vanish from there.

Wasn’t there anything of value?
Wasn’t there anything which deserves to last longer than the very moment?
Wasn’t there nothing somebody can learn from without being present?

So, I once again started wondering about reasons why “nobody” documents except me.

/one-off processing

Is life “a long chain of success and failure”? You might see it this way. As long as You won’t err about the shape – it will be OK to see it this way.

Life is no linear road to some pre-defined summit. It is more like what some understand by a “Sprial Dnamic”. It is about impressions and expressions. It is about impulses and expulses and some processing in between.

Yes, every single moment is unique. But in culture and society, in every systematic relation, there are some repeating constants and some differing variants. This is what makes it so hard to tell what is right doing and what is wrong. It is easier to get told and rely on what was “always” right – or remaining in just doing nothing.

“When it’s over, it’s over” is one of the very few basic rules in conducting Open Space events.
And what is, if You generated some insights worth sharing?
What is, if others could benefit from work those did as they found together?
I am still benefitting of a session insight I did not join, years ago!

The fact of the uniqueness of the moment justifies wasting every effort?
What, if You found something of significance?
Wouldn’t that be worth to share?

/no need to see

“I do know” is, what most people answer on my question why they do not document.

Well, there are so many things people do fine. Nevertheless, there are standards like ISO 9001 for a good reason. It is about preventing knowledge from getting lost.

On the other hand, documentation is for kick-starting from scratch. Imagine, You want to get along and need to wait for somebody to show up in person.
I know organisations where this automatically leads to a delay of two weeks and more until a meeting could be successfully scheduled.

/better to do

Some people reply “I have better to do than documenting”.

What is better than letting others start where You recently ended?
Progress is getting to where nobody was ever before.
The other is processing and in an industrialized world-view (aka “Taylorism”) it leads to an infinite circle instead of a cycling shape of movement to wherever.

It is hard to tell, what is better and what is worse, it depends … as always.

/fobo – fear of being obsolete

Some people fear of losing personal importance, once their statements aren’t requested directly anymore.
I like to tell this “fobo” in comparission to the social media phenomenon “fomo” (fear of missing out).

Roots of this fear reach deep into human personality. Belonging is one very basic property in being part of a social system. It will be renewed frequently by being asked – or if there is no need to work together, by gossip.
It also depends on the culture of the social ecosystem, You belong to. Some create benefit from personal relationship (see above /process empathy) which ends up in profits.
Others vent hot air.

/sitting on shoulders of giants

I am currently reading a nice book about Isaac Newton, I learned a lot about his approaches to the many breakthroughs he made.
But, even people as Sir Isaac or Johnny Gutenberg weren’t alone in their world.

One of my favorite quotes is directly related to Newton

I am a dwarf standing on the shoulder of giants

Björn frequently tells me about historians arguing against each other whether binary code was invented by Leibniz or Newton or between them by interacting based on LETTERS they exchanged with each other.

Maybe, it was totally different.


created by fussel


Newton or Leibniz?
They both do not care, anymore.

/Why do people limit theirself?

I often comment – mostly on #twitter

Real greatness begins beyond #EgoBarrier

What I mean is, topics are identified and initially impulsed from and by a few people – often only one person.

There were always records about some “genius” people – mostly inventers, sometimes scientists like Isaac Newton or universal interested people like Leonardo daVinci. What would You know of them, if there were no records? What would You know of Fermat’s last theorem if he never scribbled in a book?

Most of people’s work is vanished. But some thoughts outlast in time. Lasting made these thoughts important. And importance to people is what made them last. This is what made them great.
Greatness is not what You might estimate as great, personally. Greatness evolves from repeated application by others. Without being told and referenced to initial creators nothing evolves from Your thought processing. Greatness needs the thinker as well as the multiplying audience.
This finding is behind the Google-algo and what made them great.

If You limit application to personal contact and oral tradition, You limit results of Your work from getting real great.


So many people are raised under the misbelief of being allowed to speak only if they are told to speak.

  • What, if some like the challenge of imperfection?
  • What, if some appreciate being impulsed?
  • What, if nobody ever get notice?

/would You ever know this?

At a agiLEipzig meetup #15, I got notice about the very short story of Scrum.
It was a session named “lean vs agile” – impulsed by Karsten and a brilliant, outstanding hour.

Jan Fischbach reported, Jeff Sutherland always says

Scrum is LEAN with feedback.

LEAN is no official term according to those who first began to practice it. Origins of LEAN are in TWI.
And TWI – Training Within Industry – was the answer of the US to the situation being involved into WWII. There was the need for rapid qualification and fast scaling production to achieve goods for war … and civil supply.

It took roughly 20 iterations, Jan reported, until the training guides reached todays maturity. Now, roughly 70 years later, these guides are still stable and valid.
In the fifties, US citizens forgot about the program. But, some copies remained and got into hands of some Japanese who recognized value in it – for their production problem. And this was the link to the all so famous Toyota Production System. In the eighties, the principles were abstracted from Toyota and called “Lean Production” from those analysts who published about. Meanwhile, Jeff drilled his military units on parades getting from worst to first. Nowadays, “everybody” wants to get “agile” to leave what Gerhard Wohland calls the “Taylor Tub”.

All this could never happen without scripted knowledge.

So, why don’t You write down what You did and what You do?
And please, do not forget to mention why You do it.

The “WHY” is the context of practice.
Whithout understanding of the determing environment, people could only copy practices without the chance to adapt to what is different in their environment.
It would end up in “Cargo Cult” which is another branched result of TWI and the Japanese – but this is another story.

/Good practice

Whenever possible, I let some documentations being tested against application by real people.

As creation of documentation starts, I give this advice to determine flight-level and direction:

Imagine, there are people in application who are skilled to do anything.
What do they need as least privilege?
What do they need to know?

By this approach, You filter out any wondering about lacking trainings and other qualification deficits.
Documentation is not about gaining qualifications – they are presumed.

Documentation is about abstracting available knowledge from people.
It is about releasing responsibility from specific people to hold themselves available all the time for “just in the case …”

Documentation sets You free, to do whatever is more important to You than “just being there”.


Blogging helps me to process what I notice. It helps me gaining insights and finding words before I need them.
Probably, publishing impulses some to do better.
For me, it eases communication, because for recurring topics, I can link to these articles instead of explaining again and again.

You get access to whatever I additionally estimate being worth to share on my twitter-channel.


/additional sources


off the record” by Mark Wester is tagged as licensed under CC BY

Rotring ArtPen is tagged as licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

“Leibniz’ mother is calling” was created by fussel.

“from data to wisdom” is made by me and can be shared respecting license CC-BY-SA.


May all Your needs vanish into reality.
Live long and prosper.


Does Your life run in a circle?

Life runs in cycles. Some are smaller, some are bigger.
In the end, there is no end – only another beginning.

Talk to whom it may concern. And share what matters to You!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: