Group Information Management
Whether we know it or not, we are all information managers with an information strategy of some sort. The way we manage information varies widely. Some people have formal systems and others have informal systems. The same is true for information strategy. The strategy may be very pro-active and conscious or it could be completely passive and for lack of a better word, unconscious.
Managing information is hard. Information is infinite and unbounded and the cost of keeping more information seems to get lower and lower all the time. This gives you the illusion that you can manage it all. This is the flawed assumption behind all strategies for managing information.
The ingredients of an effective strategy are endless. A good starting point for any strategy begins with the why? Why are we doing this? What is the goal? To learn? To document? To help others learn? To repeat things?
Is it accurate? Who decides if it is accurate? Is it timely? In a business context, does it make the customer’s experience any better? Does having that information have any negative consequences? Too much noise? More liability?
The human brain has its own way of managing information. The way that humans perceive, acquire and process information is complex and varies widely. It is flawed, but it does the best it can with the volume of information that needs to be processed. In general, the technical side of information processing tries to compensate for the weaknesses of the human side.
By and large, our information strategies are determined by the applications and the devices that we use. These apps give us some comfort especially when we know how to use the tool and we feel we have our information managed. Calendars, contacts, tasks, notes, projects, messages, finances etc. are all elements to be managed and frequently there is a relationship between them all. The interesting thing that is missing from this is context.
There is an implied context between all the bits of information, but it is all based on certain assumptions. The information system works great for you as long as all the assumptions hold true. However, there are all kinds of forces working against the system. All kinds of human forces and emotions that don’t necessarily get captured by an information system. Maybe your public agenda is in your calendar, but your hidden agenda is only in your mind.
And the same is true for everyone else you encounter.