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Dysfunction 12 – Withheld information

Some people say that knowledge is power.

Some people believe that if they know something you don’t then they have the upper hand.

I burp in the face of these people because I believe true power comes not from knowing information but from sharing information.

At a recent contract, across the department there were more than 80 digital projects in flight at various stages of the project life cycle.

This was exciting to be part of an organisation driving so much change, but everyone was working in silos and had very little understanding of what each other was doing.

Inevitably there was duplication of effort and redundant work being done. My own team had to throw away 2 weeks of dev work after discovering that a ‘strategic’ project had also started working on the same function… but guess what…they forgot to share what they were working on across the department.

I guess we did too…

When refering to sharing information, I’m not talking about filling in a bullshit weekly powerpoint or Excel report either.  Does anyone ever read them? In 4 years I’ve never been asked a question about the information I put in those damn things.

I’m talking about actually sharing information.

This is very different from pushing information out when people don’t ask for it.

This is also very different from waiting for information to be pulled from you.

This is about deliberately creating a situation where conversation can happen, ideas can be challenged, concepts, wireframes, prototypes can be discussed and questions can be asked.

So how can you do this? Don’t worry it’s easier than you may think.

1. Talk to people to let them know you have information to share and / or want them to share with you

2. Organise an informal gathering where people can come and talk about what they are working on, maybe even have some people give lightweight presentations. These are sometimes called brown bag sessions or lunch & learns. I’ve had great success with these.

3. Make the most of opportunities that present themselves. Talk to different people during a fire evacuation. Or ask someone you bump into in the lift a question about what they are working on (as long as it’s not ‘How’s the job – busy?’).

4. Stick a massive photo of an Amazonian tree frog into the middle of the weekly report and see if anyone notices.

These are some quick and easy ways of encoraging conversations and collaboration in your organisations.

I’m sure you have more.

But unless you share them no-one will know…


Talking of sharing and being open – I want to ask for your help.

I currently have 44 subscribers and would love to reach the milestone of 50. So, I’m giving you full permission to tell people about this blog, use the facebook like button, or what ever else to share it with those who you think might enjoy reading about the dysfunctional way that we communicate and work in large organisations.

Thank you very much for supporting me on this journey.

See you next week.

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