The Power of Documentation

“If it’s not documented then it never happened.”

During my campus life I was accustomed to notetaking to a point it was standard to check with me if I had the notes. That was the criteria for confirming whether a lecture was covered or not. Towards the end of my university stay this was reiterated through my lectures on good manufacturing practices (GMP) where it is a requirement to document each and every activity in the production of any pharmaceuticals. A basic concept that serves in quality control and process audits in almost every institution by itself. This is to underscore the importance of documentation.

This evening I had a chat with a senior colleague who from her account of advancements in the profession including the interventions that have been put forth for the same, the critical and greatest missing link has always been documentation. This she further explained on the backdrop of a grant writing session she recently coordinated for her students where she teaches and alluded to the fact that the missing piece in Africa’s development is the data and evidence of what’s happening, why it is happening and how it is happening. Without any data or reported evidence we are at amiss. The same was pointed out by a colleague monitoring the response to COVID-19 in East Africa and Africa at large where she’s having the toughest of time getting to secure any specific resources covering the responses. The closest to evidence of response is found in newspapers and media galleries that report what they capture from the reported media briefs which may never capture much of the underlying pieces of the puzzle. This is the challenge that we have to contend with.

Last year I wrote about the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and alluded to the power of data, information and knowledge. As we start the new year, my suggestion is that you document what you do, the thinking behind it and why you think it’s important. Your thinking might be the ultimate breakthrough in solving challenges of the world but unless documented there’ll never be anything to improve on by those who come after you. A clear case of work of art in the initial discovery of the chromatography which later led to different forms of chromatography. At the end of the year I expect of you to be able to look back and count the number of ideas you’ll have thought through and evaluate them to see their feasibility or whether they are already in the market. This is key in aiding identification of our solutions from the context in which we operate as well as improving on existing systems.

Through 2021, please document. Write articles about your ideas, your profession and what you envision for the different spaces. Storytellers have power, tap into yours. You don’t have to publish online but if you can please do.

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