Greg DeVore

By: Greg DeVore on November 28th, 2023

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How the Four Systems of Find & Follow Help You Escape Tribal Knowledge

Like many companies, you might be trapped in an endless cycle of relying on tribal knowledge. And, let’s face it, it’s not working.

Your process for transferring knowledge to employees is clunky, your employees are making frequent mistakes, new hires rely on supervisors for at least a year, and onboarding is taking way too long.

What you need is a playbook to help you escape tribal knowledge. And that’s what the Find & Follow Framework — which Jonathan DeVore and I developed for ScreenSteps — was created for.

Specifically, the Four Systems of Find & Follow break down the necessary steps so that you can create efficient knowledge transfer habits.

So what are the Four Systems of Find & Follow? And how do they help you escape your reliance on tribal knowledge? This blog post provides a high-level overview so you can see how the Four Systems could help your business move beyond tribal knowledge.

Not sure if you rely on tribal knowledge?

Take this 3-5 minute self-evaluation to discover how efficiently your company transfers knowledge.

What are the Four Systems?

Four Systems

When your business relies on tribal knowledge, you experience challenges with onboarding, employee independence, and change management.

The Four Systems of Find & Follow provide a roadmap for improving in each of these areas by escaping tribal knowledge. It simplifies the implementation process by breaking up the Find & Follow Framework into four phases.

The Four Systems of Find & Follow are:

  1. Prepare System
  2. Train System
  3. Empower System
  4. Adapt System

The goal is to create a repeatable system that will ensure you can onboard your employees, empower them to work independently and adapt to change.

1. Prepare System

The Prepare System is all about developing a plan for your knowledge base or knowledge ops platform. In this system, you are laying the foundation for all the other systems.

The Prepare System of the Find & Follow Framework comprises two essential components:

  • Align + Define
  • Design + Refine

In the Align + Define phase you clearly define what activities employees need to be able to perform independently. You aren’t just trying to determine what they need to “know.” Instead, you focus on what they need to be able to “do.”

This is achieved through a Find & Follow Workshop. The workshop fosters a common understanding among teams about the skills and information required to work independently.

With the Design + Refine portion of the Prepare System, you prepare your digital guides. The goal is to make these guides findable, followable, and scannable. It goes beyond a mere knowledge dump, emphasizing the creation of user-friendly, effective resources.

By honing these digital guides, organizations can establish consistency, ensuring everyone operates from the same page, and facilitating the seamless transfer of knowledge to support employee productivity.

These documented procedural guides are your first step to leaving tribal knowledge behind.

What happens in the Prepare System

Some of the work you will do during the Prepare System includes:

  • Align + Define
    • Conduct a Find & Follow Workshop
  • Design + Refine
    • Select a knowledge base or knowledge ops platform to manage your guides
    • Based on the Find & Follow Workshop Report, design digital guides

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2. Train System

The Train System is where you prepare employees so they can work independently and adapt to change.

Instead of requiring employees to memorize everything, Find & Follow has you train employees with the understanding that employees will rely on digital guides. Employees will use your digital guides daily. Ultimately, this enhances efficiency and increases productivity.

The Train System helps you build an employee training curriculum by creating short foundational courses to introduce concepts and incorporating hands-on practice with real-job scenarios.

Once you’ve built the training plan, the last part of the Train System is running the training.

This approach to employee training has helped dozens of companies reduce their employee time to proficiency by at least 50%. Even more importantly, employees and trainers report that they feel much less stress during training when applying the principles of the Train System.

What happens in the Train System

  • Break up topics
  • Prepare foundational courses (training curriculum)
  • Prepare your practice activities
  • Conduct your employee training session

3. Empower System

The Empower System empowers employees to work independently post-training. This system is all about supporting your employees on the job in a way that doesn’t rely on tribal knowledge.

This system guides supervisors, coaches, and managers on how to hold employees accountable for using these resources. They do this by redirecting questions to digital guides and investing in capturing knowledge.

That means they don’t answer procedural questions in Slack or email. They ask, “Have you looked in the knowledge base?” Or they send the employees the link to the knowledge base article. This helps encourage employee self-reliance.

What happens in the Empower System

  • Rely on digital guides
  • Redirect questions to your knowledge base
  • Invest in reusable knowledge

4. Adapt System

The Adapt System equips organizations to adapt swiftly to changes with minimal confusion. It is focused on helping your team adapt to changes large and small with minimal training or operational impact.

It provides a structured approach to navigate organizational changes such as software updates, procedural modifications, office closures, or policy changes. This structured approach allows you to determine:

  • When additional training is required or when you can just update a digital guide
  • How to communicate process changes
  • How to design training programs for changes that will have a major impact on operations

By using the Adapt System, change management becomes more systematized and efficient and much less time-consuming and chaotic.

What happens in the Adapt System

  • Analyze the impact
  • Optimize the guides
  • Notify or train employees on changes

Optimize your knowledge operations and training with Find & Follow

Tribal knowledge is the fly that just won’t go away — unless you implement the right knowledge transfer systems.

With Find & Follow, you can escape tribal knowledge. The Four Systems help you create resources and establish habits that prevent you from sliding back into tribal knowledge.

That results? Some outcomes include:

  • Less time wasted during onboarding
  • Fewer escalations and mistakes when employees handle complex procedures
  • Less employee stress and feelings of inadequacy
  • Less chaos when adopting big and small changes

Interested in learning more about Find & Follow and the Four Systems?

Take our free 30-minute introductory course on the Find & Follow Framework. This will help you better understand what it takes to implement Find & Follow and how it can impact your company.

Or, if you want a more personalized introduction to Find & Follow, schedule a discovery call with a ScreenSteps expert. They will help you determine if Find & Follow could work in your organization.

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About Greg DeVore

CEO of ScreenSteps