Steven's Notebook

Look Ma - No Hands!

Organizational Knowledge and Communication

Jon Udell, of who’s ideas, discussion and writing I’ve long been a fan, wrote in an article last week: Pub/sub networking for enterprise awareness:

In theory everyone talks to everyone and everything gets taken care of. In practice, as we know, not so much.

This is so true, and frustrating for me. My guess is that it’s also frustrating for most people, though few would have been able to describe so well just what it is that’s so deficient about corporate or organizational communications. We’ve all heard it, or said it ourselves — or both — “I’m swamped by email, but I never know what I really need to know.”

I daresay that the info you need is there somewhere, bueried in co-workers’ inboxes or in documents on their laptops. If you’re somewhat fortunate, your org has some sort of repository (SharePoint or similar), though most likely it’s not very well organized or indexed for searching.

I’ve tried, in most of the companies and groups in which I’ve worked, to bring some sort of organization and order to the information storage side of things. To various extents, I’d like to think I’ve been successful. To be honest though, I’ve had the most success when I’m working with very technical people who, by their nature, prefer order over chaos. When I’ve been working with more business-oriented or creative folks, they see less need to contribute. They’re often grateful when I’m able to find things for them, but they’ve just not been as willing to invest the time to keep things tidy. Different personalities, different priorities.

In any case, what’s still missing even from the most structured and well-maintained data repository, is the communication and update notification that Jon describes in his thought experiment. If you’ve found the right combination of tools and people to implement something approaching his scenario, let us hear about it.

1 Comment

  1. I think part of the solution is to “kit” the key information associated with each person and team/project. There is an interesting discussion on this concept here:

    http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/03/free_your_staff_to_think.html#comment-171293380

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