Human Processes: Network Overload

Staff in many organizations now have a wide choice of ways to communicate with one another:

  1. Email
  2. Mobile phone text messaging
  3. Phone calls
  4. Meetings (including conference calls)
  5. Regular stand-ups
  6. Desktop instant messaging
  7. Public social network messaging (for example, Twitter)
  8. Application-specific notifications (status updates from their document management system, approval requests for invoices, and so on)
  9. Intranet posts (company news, technology briefings, workgroup updates, and so on)
  10. Comments in shared edits of documents
  11. Workflow (document management, back office and operational systems)

On top of all this, there’s the latest “must have” – a private social network. I wonder what value will be delivered by this particular addition to enterprise infrastructure…

I don’t want to add to what I call “Network Overload” for anyone, so am going to keep this column brief. There is significant danger in confusing communication with collaboration – a danger exacerbated by the marketing tactics of some software vendors. For example, a leading private social network vendor describes their offering as “a private social network that helps employees collaborate across departments, locations and business apps.” This is quite wrong. The product doesn’t help employees collaborate – it helps them communicate.

CIOs without this understanding will invest in tools that further saturate staff with time-consuming interactions that deliver little business value. By contrast, CIOs with this understanding will invest in tools that empower staff to achieve their objectives, by supporting the 5 principles of VTP:

  1. Effective teams
  2. Purposeful communication;
  3. Use of knowledge;
  4. Prioritization of time;
  5. Responsive planning.

That’s it. I’ll stop here, so you have time to welcome a few more people to your employer’s private social network for a discussion of sandwiches. I like smoked salmon and cream cheese. Then perhaps a flapjack. But only if I missed breakfast. How about you?

Keith Harrison-Broninski

Keith Harrison-Broninski

Keith Harrison-Broninski FRSA is an author, speaker, and technology/business consultant specialising in collaboration across organisational boundaries as well as social technology for wellness, community, and finance. Keith’s first book was "Human Interactions" (2005): "Set to produce the first fundamental advances in personal productivity since the arrival of the spreadsheet" (Information Age); "The breakthrough that changes the rules of business" (Peter Fingar, author of "Business Process Management: The Third Wave"); "The overarching framework for 21st century business technology" (BP Trends); "The next logical step in process-based technology" (Chair of the Workflow Management Coalition). Keith went on to develop these principles for cross-boundary collaboration in further books and research and lead award-winning social enterprises for healthcare innovation, wellness, and community finance. Keith’s latest book "Supercommunities" brings together insights from recent academic research with original ideas about wellness, collaboration, and finance to explain how communities everywhere can become antifragile through social trading.


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