So even Mr Gates has noticed that information overload may be a problem.
The news release states:
"It’s overwhelming," Gates said Thursday at the software company’s ninth annual CEO Summit. "Nobody’s paid to do search or just find information. At the end of the day you’re paid for designing a new product, having a satisfied customer and doing that with the minimum amount of time, the minimum amount of people."
And then is goes into doing a little bit of a sales pitch about technology. My own view is that technology has a way to go in order to enable people to manage the mountains of information that is given them every day. For me though the key issue is about training the individual and the team.
Is Technology the answer to the problem?
My last blog was asking a question of technology, whether it was really tackling the right issues when it comes to collaboration. I did go on a bit of a rant about the way that technology tends to devalue a process while automating it, but fundamentally I still think that technology is answering the wrong question.
In either of these two things, information management and collaboration, the real issue is the working practices that individuals go through. People work in lots of different ways, and build their working practices around their personality type.
At present the technology world seems to be really nice to people who are structured in their working, for those of us who are naturally semi-structured workers it’s OK, for people who are naturally completely unstructured in there working the technologies don’t help them at all. As a semi-structured worker I know that I am effective when I follow certain processes which for me have been technology enabled, but these are structured processes and not ones that I do naturally. I need to be told why I need to do a process. Sue is the other way around, she is a structured worker and needs to be told to stop doing a process. I have a friend who is completely unstructured and naturally kicks back against anything that looks like a process.
Email kills the unstructured worker. A structured worker looks at a list of emails and does one of two things. They either starts at the top and work down, or they use a two phase approach whereby they look for the important emails first. An unstructured worker may start at the top and work down but after about five emails will be bored of that method and move to another method, and then to another, and then to another. these people end up with hundred of unread email. Take the way that systems deal with calendaring, for instance. It’s an appropriate thing to give a structured worker control of their diary by enabling them to make a decision on every appointment sent to them. This is probably not an appropriate way to deal with an unstructured worker. It would be much better for the system to tell the unstructured worker what their appointment for the day are, to give them a choice over whether to accept an invitation or not puts them into a place which they can’t handle particularly well.
Why should IT care about unstructured workers?
IT should care about unstructured workers – because they are the future.