Are you inadvertently locking up your knowledge? Are you hiding information from your peers? Are you limiting the spread of useful information?
I’m on a campaign, of sorts, to get people to think outside the inbox. A campaign to start leveraging more collaborative capabilities for sharing information and working together.
Does this scenario feel familiar, I receive an email, probably one with many recipients and the inevitable game of ping pong, back and forth dialog ensues, and some decision is made. What happens if someone wants to revisit that decision, tries to remember why a decision was made, or a new colleague needs some history about that decision? Those that participated in the discussion will probably remember they exchanged email and can search for the background material in their mail system. What about others? What do they do?
Email as the collaboration platform has created a situation where that information is now locked up. Is there a better way? I think so. If this dialog occurred within a discussion forum, a blog, or a social network platform, then that knowledge would be more accessible by others in organization. Searches might quickly find this dialog – that assumes a working search infrastructure that supports federated searches across sources of information.
Email is an important platform but it is not always the most appropriate collaboration platform, especially when making group decisions. Some of the benefits of using other collaborative capabilities, especially when backed with good search infrastructure include:
- Ease of understanding why certain decisions have been made
- Allowing others to benefit from prior research and dialog
- Helping new employees to become more knowledgeable and productive in a shorter period of time
- Reduction in email storage costs – How may times do you need to send that 3 MB file around?
The use of appropriate collaboration tools can level the playing field and help spread organizational knowledge. As we become more geographically distributed it becomes even more important for us to think outside the inbox and leverage more collaborative capabilities.
I encourage you to thing about how your daily work habits contribute to locking up knowledge. How might you leverage collaboration capabilities to set information free? Have you shifted from an email centric mindset to more collaborative tools? If so, what benefits have you seen?
I would love to get your thoughts on this.