If your company has ever struggled to cope with an employee’s departure, you need to talk to Greg Gering.

Greg, the 352nd person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, is a handover specialist who helps companies document and systemise everything their employees do, so that new staff members can easily take over from their predecessors. This also mitigates risk, so that companies don’t lose valuable knowledge if a key employee suddenly departs.

You might be wondering why companies would need to pay Greg for this unique service (and, yes, it is unique, because to the best of Greg’s knowledge, no other business in Australia that offers the same service). After all, couldn’t employers just tell each staff member to make a list of all their duties, so a handover document was ready to go whenever they resigned?

In theory, yes. But as Greg explains, an instruction like “Prepare monthly report” is actually so vague as to be meaningless. After all, who does the new employee send the report to? What information do they include in the report? Where do they find that information? How do they analyse it? How do they present it?

Often, when someone joins a company, they’re told, “Here’s your laptop – good luck”, and then have to spend months figuring out their job, wasting valuable company resources in the process. But if Greg had already visited the company, and meticulously documented and systemised that person’s role, they’d know exactly what they needed to do from day one.

What really interested me about Greg’s business, C-Suite Continuum, was not so much the problem it solves but the thinking that causes the problem.

Humans tend to be short-term thinkers, who struggle to plan for the long-term. Also, we find it hard to put ourselves in another person’s shoes – the reason we don’t realise “Prepare monthly report” is confusing is because we don’t stop to think just how many assumptions are built into that instruction.