(1) Supports the establishment of COORDINATED ACTION.
Today everyone working on the project we are working on is working from the same page. We know this for absolute certain because we are working from the SAME DOCUMENTATION. It is updated dynamically and ongoingly by all team members with sufficient level of authorisation. We all refer to it in all the work we do. It is single-sourced on the companies intranet. There is no question that we are aligned on what we are doing, because we are all working from the basis of the same specification document.
(2) Supports the development of GROUP INTELIGENCE.
A group of people working together on something can achieve things which people working in isolation cannot achieve. It is not for no reason that our ancestors hunted in packs. Documentation is not the only way to achieve group intelligence. Some nomadic tribes have sustained themselves with an “oral tradition”. In the oral tradition, wisdom is passed from generation to generation via the spoken word, very often in the form of fables and folk tales. Weekly seminars in which team members share new insights they have realised with other team members can be useful.
However the value of “written tradition” has been understood since at least the time of the pharaohs. When the complexity of a subject reaches a certain size, an oral tradition starts to fail in being able to communicate powerfully everything that is useful. We start to have to spend so much time simply repeating what we said earlier that day or yesterday or last week. And in order to be able to repeat it, we have to be able to REMEMBER it. As a subject reaches a sufficient level of complexity, remembering all the pertinent correlations at just the right moment becomes increasing difficult. Written (stored in some way) documentation helps deal with this problem.
(3) Supports the creation of INTELECTUAL PROPERTY.
(4) Supports the development of INDIVIDUAL UNDERSTANDING.
When I document something, I become clearer about it, my understanding increases. I start seeing connections between the parts of the whole that I hadn’t seen before. I start to be able to see the whole of something, not just the part of it I am currently engaged in working on.
(5) Supports increased WORK SATISFACTION.
When I understand the whole that I am working to produce, it is more satisfying to be working on the part I am currently working on. Because I am able to do this work in the context of the whole that it is contributing towards making.
(6) Powerful tool to use when PLANNING.
We are going to be more effective if we know where we’re going before we set off going there. How can we tell if we know where we are going? Do we all agree about this, at least as of today? Once it gets written down, where we are going becomes VISIBLE. So this is another related key distinction about the reasons for having documentation: PROJECT VISIBILITY.
(7) Supports a non-mind based generation of being.
EXISTENCE, COMPLETION and INTEGRITY. (But that’s a whole other story.)