How to Create a Living Document as a Chief of Staff

How to Create a Living Document as a Chief of Staff

In order to survive and thrive in the fast-paced world of business, companies need strong foundations and the ability to embrace and adapt when change arises.

When it comes to strong business foundations, there is no discounting the importance of information. If a large amount of information about company processes suddenly vanished, this could ruin a business, regardless of how large or how successful it once was.

While this may seem unlikely to happen, a vast array of things can drag members of the team away with little to no notice, leaving a gap of knowledge behind. This is why it is crucial for the chief of staff and other C-level executives to prepare a living document.

Below, we will discuss what a living document is, how to create one, and what to include in it so readers can rest assured that their team will be able to continue without them if the unthinkable were to occur.

What Is a Living Document?

A living document is an evergreen piece of material. It contains up-to-date information that is essential for helping teams work effectively and advance the organization.

Any document can become a living document, from internal policies to business plans. The only stipulation is that living documents must be adjusted, appended, and revised frequently according to the current available information, state of the business, the intended document owner’s scope of work, and more.

The Basics of Creating a Living Document

Since living documents need to be regularly updated, it must reside somewhere easily accessible for both the owner and for people whose input and information are needed by the owner.

One of the simplest ways to do this is to save the document in a cloud-based document sharing platform, such as Dropbox, Microsoft 365, and Google Docs. Regardless of the platform, however, the owner must carefully choose who can make changes to the file and what kind of changes they can make.

Being able to track the changes made or to review suggested changes before implementing them ensures that changes are not made in error.

What a Living Document for a Chief of Staff Needs

A living document for a chief of staff is one that should help them carry out their wide range of responsibilities — from acting as a communication liaison to overseeing daily operations. As such, some information that may be critical for a chief of staff include:

  • Department goals and key performance metrics
  • List of employees in each department or team
  • Up-to-date contact details of all executives and employees
  • Up-to-date contact details of important business partners and affiliates
  • Current and proposed projects and their plans
  • Prioritized initiatives for the fiscal quarter or year

While these can prove useful for a chief of staff, they are by no means the limits to what their living document can include. The contents of the living document can change according to the chief of staff’s duties.

The most important thing about creating a living document for a chief of staff is to continually update it. This can be done weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, or simply as the business develops and new information becomes available.

Conclusion

With a living document in hand, you can rest assured that you’ll have an easy reference sheet as you work and your team will have the information they need if you have to step away on short notice.

Develop your own living document today to get a bird’s-eye view of your responsibilities and keep your company safe from gaps in information.

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