The Mythical 40 Hour Workweek

Communication is crippling Corporate America.  I know what you’re thinking, “That statement is preposterous.  Communication is the bedrock of productivity today”, but if you bear with me I’ll explain my thinking on the subject.  Communication may be the bedrock of business systems today, but it has also become an albatross around our necks and is draining us of our productivity.  As organizations have flattened over the last two decades and command and control hierarchies have been replaced with matrix style organizations, communication between an ever increasing number of interested parties has sapped nearly all productivity from today’s corporations.  Our goals aren’t related to corporate strategy anymore.  We simply try to keep up with the ever increasing amount of email, meetings, and IMs that come our way all day, and if there’s any time left over for real work…. we’ll figure out someway to distract ourselves from getting it done. Nearly ...(Read More)

Relevance + Trust = Attention

I just read a few interesting posts by Tim Bray and Alex Payne about what to read and how to stay up to date (see below).  Much of what they say I agree with.  The simple problem is that there is just too much stuff out there that is interesting or important on some level.  Combine that with an ever expanding workload, a short attention span, and a fading memory and you have a combination that just can’t work long term.  What’s interesting is that I’ve asked several knowledge workers of one sort or another what their biggest problems are and most respond with something like … “too many interruptions” “wasting time on nonproductive tasks like email” “no ability to focus on key tasks” “excessive multitasking” This is clearly a major problem and is probably getting worse given the increasing amount of information that keeps pouring in.  The key to ...(Read More)

Converting Tire Kickers into Missionaries

Ever wonder why some open source projects are insanely popular and others struggle to get mind-share?  I do, all the time, especially since the “insanely popular” part is what I’m striving for as a Community Manager at Novell.  I recently read a great book entitled “Designing for the Social Web” by Joshua Porter.  In his book Joshua describes the life-cycle of a user interacting with a website and points out the various hurdles that must be overcome in order to create an active user.  This got me to thinking (dangerous) about the similarities shared between the life-cycle Joshua outlined and what open source projects go through.  I thought I’d write down my thoughts on this topic before I forgot them  Unaware User -> Awareness -> Interested Potential User Once you think you’ve got a handle on describing the nature of the problems you solve its time for some outreach.  This ...(Read More)

Collaboration Silos

With collaboration and community tools like blogs, wikis, forums, tagging, and rating systems, the enterprise has become filled with collaboration tools that bring people together online and enable productivity. However, the lack of integration in these platforms creates not only Data Silos but Collaboration Silos. Information from one system has to be moved to another system if you want to collaborate and then finding the most relevant copy of the information becomes a nightmare. Where is the latest version? Was it an email attachment? Did I put it in the shared directory? Where are Bob’s comments? These questions and many similar ones are asked every day. What we need is a smart collaboration platform that combines simple actions with relevant information artifacts to produce collaboration spaces that work for you and not the other way around. All information artifacts in the enterprise have “potential” for collaboration we just need to ...(Read More)

Flock Theory and Leadership

I have to admit that I’m a bit of a collaboration and community junkie and as such follow some obscure topics.  One topic I’ve had on my radar for quite some time is Flock Theory.  Flock theory tries to describe the self-organizing and emergent aspects of human behavior.  Succinctly put, behavior in some cases is not a property of any individual person (or bird), but rather emerges as a property of a group or social network (flock).  This concept can be used to describe aspects of both collaborative teams and open source communities.  I’m not going to analyze the merits of the theory but I do want to introduce its concepts which I think have implications for team/community productivity and possibility even individual information relevance. The fundamental aspects of Flock Theory can be distilled into the following axioms and tenets … Distance Optimization Avoid crowding group members Move towards the ...(Read More)