Tuesday, December 11, 2012

There's so much waste - can you see it?



As information work has become digitized, the work that many of us do on a daily basis has become less visible. Chances are it will never be seen, or recognized. What is more, the time, effort, and talent that is wasted on doing the wrong things won’t be seen either. Neither value-adding nor non value-adding work is visible.


McKinsey Global Institute estimated the potential for improving knowledge work with social technologies to 20-25%. So, there seems to be a huge – and overlooked – potential in improving knowledge work. The thing is; if we don’t see it, we can’t improve it. If just make digital work visible in our digital workplace, measuring it will be (well, sort of) a piece of cake. This means that a mayor challenge to improve information work is to make our work more visible, for example:
  • Making it as easy to sharing what we do with as little effort as possible 
  • Capturing information about our activities and interactions with information resources and other people 
  • Creating a transparent digital work environment where we can see what is going on, who is doing what, when, where
Although technology is important, it really comes down to improving our work practices if we are to unlock any of the potential that lies in improving knowledge work. It’s not just about ensuring that we get the expected return on our investments in collaboration and communication technology. The real question is how the technology can make us work smarter, doing more with less, faster.

Instead of putting our hopes to technology to improve productivity, introducing one tool or application after the other, we should really strive for simplification, and discuss how we can work smarter. It is equally important to reflect on what we shouldn’t do, what tools and features we shouldn’t have, as it is to reflect on what we should do, and what tools and features we need to get the work done.