I take a lot of friendly flack for writing guidelines in our office–documents that describe a process and exactly how we do it. Whether we need to prepare for a new employee's arrival, train essay specialists, or make a good pot of coffee, I've got a guideline for it.
Our guidelines aren't about enforcing standards of conformity. We're not McDonald's, and I don't think it's good to legislate every step of every process in a business like ours. Instead, our guidelines prevent us from having to recreate and re-explain a process over and over again. For example, preparing for a new employee's first day is a lot of work for us. From setting up the office, to getting office supplies, to having all of the employment paperwork ready, it's a lot to remember and easy to forget a step. So way back in 2004 after we'd just hired another counselor, I wrote down everything we did to prepare (and included a few things we forgot). I included lists of what to buy, links to the forms we'd need, and a description of what we want the first day to be like. Each time we've hired a new employee since then, we go back to that guideline. We always make some updates and improvements, but the guideline ensures some consistency no matter who's in charge, and it saves us the trouble of having to remember everything each time we hire someone. It makes it easier to do a good job.
Our guidelines also help us commit to improving everything we do. Margot spent last spring completely revamping our counselor training. Everything she did, from the schedule to the reading list to the outline of each day is written down. Now that the training is done, she's going back through all of it and making adjustments based on what we'd like to do differently next time. We're not currently preparing to train a new counselor. But the last training is still fresh in her mind, so it's easy for her to make tweaks now. We couldn't do that if our trainers just kept all that information in their heads.
It takes some discipline to make yourself create them, but the payoff from guidelines have been well worth it for us. Maybe a guideline could help your office, club or organization? If you just ran a fundraiser for your club, why not write down what you did, what worked, and what you'd like to do differently next time? It would probably make the next fundraiser easier to do and even more successful.
Seriously, we really do have one for making coffee: