Information over Function

Published by Lex on

Too many organizations focus their information strategy around departments and job functions…and while this approach seems rational, I wonder if it is a totally backward model information centric organizations.

The brilliant Peter Marks of Design Insight once wrote about the irony of supposedly customer centric organizations that were so structured around inward looking functions that customer values were more of a byproduct of the organization than the focal point.

But organizations and the way that they work are more defined and divvied up more by internal needs rather than customer needs.

Job functions are really funny and so are career paths, but that’s a post for another day. The decision, trust and autonomy hierarchy of most organizations are the result of a combination of luck, happenstance and maybe some business school theory. But believe me, there is nothing written in stone that this is the only way to run a business.

Some functions are so entrenched that it is almost impossible to reimagine new ways to work.

Whole industries (and associations) have sprung up just to serve the needs of job functions. It is a bit of a self reinforcing cycle that makes it challenging for anyone to question the system.

Moreover, there are all kinds of information systems designed to serve the needs of each of those functions. And there are systems that exist just to exchange information between the l systems.

And of course, there are the enterprise systems that try to manage the entire information flow of the organization and create a tailored view for each function with only the data that is relevant to them. Fortunately, these systems are often modular, so you only buy what you need.

These systems are sort of great. They are a testament to something…But I seriously wonder if the approach is truly optimal for a world where knowledge moves way faster than individuals and way faster than organizations…

…Something is getting lost somewhere. My strong hunch is that we really need to organize around the creation and movement of information value rather than the traditional view of functions.


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