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Ordinary Smart People Will Change the Organization, Part 3 (FREE pdf)

Ordinary Smart People Will Change the Organization, Part 3 (FREE pdf)

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How ordinary smart people will change the organization. By Dave Pollard. This concludes a three-part series on the failures of many organizations to recognize and capitalize on the value of human knowledge. Where those companies still don’t “get it,” the future is in the hands of ordinary smart...
How ordinary smart people will change the organization. By Dave Pollard. This concludes a three-part series on the failures of many organizations to recognize and capitalize on the value of human knowledge. Where those companies still don’t “get it,” the future is in the hands of ordinary smart...

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Published by: Smart People magazine (FREE ARTICLES) on Nov 17, 2009
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11/06/2012

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    W    O    R    K    I    N    G
24 
 
SMART PEOPLE 
WORKING 
By Dave PollardI have written beforeabout what I call PersonalKnowledge Management(PKM), which is an attemptto enable workers to do thismore effectively.My problem has been thatPKM is impossible to sell tosenior management, becausethey perceive no value tothemselves.I toyed with the idea of trying to sell it to front-lineworkers directly, perhaps bystarting a magazine called
Working Smarter
.The problem with thisis that everyone is at adifferent stage in evolutiontoward PKM, and thereare no standard answersor approaches — we eachhave to muddle this throughfor ourselves, based on ourown “knowledge set” andinformation behaviors.But perhaps if we outlineda future scenario of wherethis PKM trend is headed,we might be able to evolvean approach that wouldaccommodate the needs of  both individual workersand the organizationsstruggling to cope with thisphenomenon.To this end, let me startwith a story of a young business analyst named Jon.
Part III: Saving the company
How ordinary smart people will change the organization
This concludes a three-part series on the failures of many organizations to recognize and capitalize on the value of human knowledge. Where those companies still don’t “get it,” the future is in the hands of ordinary smart people.
A compositeworkaround story
 Jon spent the first week 
in his new job with GiantCo. trying to port all theinformation, contacts,subscriptions and softwaretools he had been using in histhree previous jobs to his newcompany-supplied computer.He was stymied at everyturn. He was not allowedto put the tools he wasfamiliar with onto his newcomputer because they were“not supported” by his newemployer.He was blocked by the
security firewall from usingWebmail in the office (“we
consider this to be somethingemployees would only usefor personal non-businesspurposes”), even though allhis business contacts andsubscriptions were on it.He was blocked fromaccessing YouTube (wheremany of the videos he hadprepared for his previousemployers, and someeducational videos he referredto regularly, were stored).He was blocked fromusing IM and Skype, so he wascut off from his global network of experts and colleagues whoused IM and Skype exclusivelyfor instant, free knowledgesharing, advice and quick lookups of useful researchmaterials.He was blocked fromusing Vyew, so instead of  being able to call people
outside the office for quick,
free conferences with screen-sharing, he had to use thecompany’s expensive pay-per-use audio conferencingsystem (and everyone on thecall had to be pre-authorized),and send a huge deck of screen captures by email toparticipants in advance.He wasn’t permitted towork from home. When heworked on weekends fromhome, his Web access tohis work email didn’t work properly, and because his co-workers didn’t use it, he wastold it would be months before
they would start trying to fix
the problems with it.After a long delay, hewas approved for VPN, butonly on his work computer,so he began lugging it homeevery day, only to discoverthat it degraded performanceso much that even accessingemail with it was agonizinglyslow.His boss dropped into Jon’s cubicle about six weeksafter he had started work,and found Jon workingaway happily. But to the boss’ surprise, Jon had twocomputers sitting side-by-sideon his desk. Jon explained that hiswork computer was connected
 
SMART PEOPLE 
 
25 
WORKING 
to the organization’s network,and he used it only to accessmessages and documents
 behind the firewall, which Jon
would immediately forwardto his personal email account,or (using a USB drive) quicklytransfer over to his ownmachine.All work was done on Jon’s own machine, which wasconnected to the Internet (andall Jon’s contacts, subscriptionsand documents) by a wirelessconnection that Jon paid forpersonally.Because all Jon’s outgoingemails came from his ownmachine, 90 percent of theemail he was receiving fromfellow employees was now being sent to his personalemail address (most peopledidn’t notice or care that Jon’sreply to’ email address on hismessages wasn’t his companyemail address).Ten of his co-workers atthe company had followedhis two-computer example,and were using IM ratherthan email for theircommunications. The bossasked whether it didn’t take alot of time to transfer betweenthe two machines, and Jonreplied “Less and less all thetime.”
 Jon’s boss left the office
unsure whether to praise Jon for his innovativeworkaround, or report himto IT to make sure Jon wasn’texposing the company tosecurity risks.This is a composite of anumber of real cases of youngpeople working arounddysfunctional informationsystems I have witnessed inthe last two years. I expect it’sgoing to become more andmore common.Let’s suppose that, in20 years, Jon’s information behavior becomes the norm.Eventually organizationswill have to face the problem,and end the guerilla warthat is brewing between theIT security people and GenY in a growing number of companies and institutions.I think it is unlikely thatmost will be able to resolvethe perceived security threatsin such a way that they couldallow the Jons of the world todo what they want inside the
firewall.
What is more likely is that, just like the calculator andtelephone, the laptop (soonto become even smaller andmore powerful) will evolveto be a ubiquitous personaldevice that people will carrywith them everywhere.At that point havingredundant computers (andphones) on everyone’s desk will become absurd, and ITsecurity can start to focus on
protecting confidential data
from being accessed, ratherthan trying to lock downemployees’ appliances.At that point, the roleof the rest of IT,and KM, willhave to changecompletely.Here’s ascenario of howI think it might look:OrgInfoFlows2
Major information flows in
organizations, c. 2025?In 2025, everyindividual in everyorganization uses his orher own personal computerfor both personal andwork applications. Almostall information is Web- based, with organizations’proprietary informationonly accessible throughauthorization software.Email has disappeared,replaced by a virtualpresence applicationthat includes instantmessaging, screensharing,voice/videoconferencing,
filesharing, calendaring,
tasklists.Employees maintain a“Company Sector” on theirmachines in which theyput information that can be accessed 24/7 by otheremployees.Most people also maintaina “Public Sector” on theirmachines in which theyput information that can beaccessed 24/7 or subscribedto by anyone in the world(this has replaced blogs and
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