Reduce confusion!! A great rallying cry. Come on say it with me. What I mean here is so much of the inefficiency in business today is the complexity we have created for ourselves with the proliferation of information and devices to distribute this information. (Don’t get me started on Big Data, this could be the start of the apocalypse.) Information is generally good, and timely information is generally better. But the growth in the number of files and documents in corporations can actually be causing more harm than good.
My typical stories include the key executive who decided to share the executive summary of his strategic plan with a consultant by providing him a link to the document in the cloud. Unfortunately, the link resolved to his corporate network and provided access to many confidential documents, including compensation data. Or the company that had to rework a machine due to an engineering defect and the Engineering Department forgot to reversion the drawing, and yes you guessed it, the production floor produced the original machine all over again. Please tell me someone lost their job.
The objective here is to increase the sharing of ESSENTIAL information to HELP the situation. But often, the sharing is actually causing more confusion. For example, documents that circulate between many individuals who are continually reworking the same concept because no one knows what the lastest version is. Now add to this picture individuals sitting in offices in different locations. Whose copy is the most up-to-date, or worse, someone makes a change on a local file and no one knows about it. You mean Bob thought of this last month and I’ve been working on the same thing for weeks as well, shoot me right now! Isn’t technology great. You know for what we lose on every item we make up on volume.
There is no simple answer, but there must be a corporate and division commitment to trying to get a handle on all this data stuff, before it overwhelms us. Before we spend more time finding, distributing, and undoing all the mistakes than we are saving. That sound you hear is the sucking of our productivity gains going down that black hole we call IT.
Confusion is caused by many factors, but certainly the leading offenders are the lack of sharing or the sharing of too much, or irrelevant information. (Can you have too much information? Look at your desk top and tell me life wouldn’t be easier if half of the paper and half of the programs weren’t there.) Yet the current mantra is collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.
My hypothesis is, you can reduce confusion by sharing more information, but NOT TOO MUCH INFORMATION, AND ONLY THE RIGHT INFORMATION. Sounds complicated, maybe even a lot of work. Yes, but! The good news is more than a number of very smart people (including our geniuses in eQuorum’s Development group) have thought about this for a long time and have generated some really neat software to help with the situation. To better organize this mountain of data and files and to encourage sharing, and the right type of sharing. Initially I was confused (yes my wife believes this is my perpetual state of being), but I now see it clearly (is it a light or the train?), that the only way through this increasingly overwhelming deluge of information is to manage it before it gets out-of-hand. And manage it smartly to reduce the confusion.
I will stop here before I start to confuse myself. More on corporate confusion to come…..or just read the WSJ.