What makes us productive?
Besides business systems like ERP, SCM, BPM, workflows and the like, the common worker uses a good portion of his time in producing, gathering and collaborating on information to solve a case, complete a task or reach a conclusion/decision.
Peter Drücker said that “The most valuable asset of a 21st century institution will be its knowledge workers and their productivity”.
And yet, it’s a paradox how “corporations spend millions on ERP systems, while systems to make the knowledge worker truly effective have had so little attention”.
There’s no doubt that enhancing the knowledge workers’ productivity will pay off in more than one way.
But today the knowledge worker is left with a tool set that was not designed or optimized for typical knowledge work productivity. Why? What makes us productive?
As stated above we gather and produce information, we need to collaborate (none of us is as smart as all of us), we need to develop together, we need to meet, talk, converse. The typical tools for this has been MS Office, Word, email, meetings and the like. But as stated in The value of what you write and the value of conversational data, MSO or Word was never designed for collaboration, but bears a heritage of a personal (from PC) tool with a typewriter print-centric metaphor, and as stated in Information – some guiding principles and definitions : Email was never designed as an information container or carrier. And still – this is what we use today : Word and email. Hmm. In stead of applying a pattern of function-direct-tools, we have in fact struggled with a situation where tools have directed our patterns, and they have left us short. In addition we have dug ourselves into a hole of complicated and limited client environments that only serve the old paradigm of “personal” productivity tools. Ouch – this doesn’t look good.
There’s a better way:
Back in 2006 Peter O’Kelly of Burton Group said:
“The print-centricity dominating most personal computing platforms and tools has also hampered hypertext during recent decades.Although Vannevar Bush eloquently articulated his vision for a much more effective way of working with and collaborating through content more than 60 years ago, today’s most widely deployed platforms and tools are still dominated by conceptual models based on a foundation of digitized file cabinets and traditional documents…… Hypertext is simply a better form-follows-function fit (than print-centric approaches) for the way people actually think and work.”..from Whatever happened to the Web?
Are we finally at a stage where the corporate world can apply what the rest of the world have benefited from already – the vast resource of Internet and the world-wide-web. We can achieve the productivity and collaboration we need by just utilizing the Internet technology and the hypertext model of “linking people, linking data” that’s already there. And that’s it – we don’t need anything else – no fancy PC client environments, no file servers, etc. In fact the access-from-any-device-anywhere requirement of today has automatically rejected this complicated/single client model and posted the web/browser client as the only viable alternative.
Thus we simplify (and cost-reduce) the whole client environment issue and achieve better “form-follows-function fit”. It’s a double win-win. (see: Simplify Client Configuration and Data Access and Web2/E2/WOA to liberate us)
The development of type Web2.0 practices (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), which cater for more conversational processes and data is right on track for what we need as knowledge workers in the corporate world as well. Web 2.0 for the enterprise = Enterprise 2.0.
To achieve this productivity effectively we work in and around a collaborative space. Previously we lived in email and Word, now we live in the collaborative space. The collaborative space is in a web environment powered by an effective and versatile hypertext engine.
In the collaborative space:
- Information are presented and centered around what I need at the moment
- what am I working on now
- who am I working with
- what info/resources do I need in my role
- We have all resources available to work on or develop a case
- Previous history
- Related issues
- Related people
- All conversations around the case
- synchronous and asynchronous on-line meetings – with all data recorded
- All documents, reports, illustrations, etc.
- they reside in the case in the collaborative workspace and don’t necessarily need a separate DMS (however can link to / integrate a DMS if required).
- All information about a case are gathered/contained one place and not multiple copies of it.
- Information don’t need to be carried – only referenced
- Interactions with others are encouraged and empowered.
- collaborative effort enhances information value
- All necessary communication spins around the collaborative space
- informed about alerts in the collaborative space
- significantly reduction in email use
- email used appropriately primarily as a notifier.
- Can also use email as an input/output, but information still resides in the collaborative space.
- Is a good conversational tool
- good handling of conversational data
- valued equal to documents and reports, etc.
- works on Information Items (see: Information – some guiding principles and definitions)
- good handling of conversational data