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Your Story: Throwing new tools at a communication problem?

I'm working on a (likely non-43 Folders) piece about a topic that seems to keep coming up whenever I talk with people about how their team plans, collaborates, and generally communicates with one another. I'd love to hear from you in comments if you have a contribution to make.

What’s your story?

Do you have a story about a time when your team or company tried to solve a human communication problem by adding a new tool? In your estimation, how did things turn out?


Yours doesn't need to be a horror story to be included here -- there are certainly ample examples in which a thorny problem disappeared by introducing a bit of high (or low) technology to the mix.

But, the anecdotes I hear from worker bees often focus on the frustration they felt when a wiki, a new CMS, a mailing list, or some other tool was introduced into an ecosystem that was suffering from a more fundamental communication problem. A lot of people tell me that this makes matters much worse all around, often amplifying the complexity of the original problem, in addition to piling on burnt cycles that were committed on getting everyone up to speed on the new "silver bullet."

If you have a minute over the next week or so, please share your story here. Redact details that you think need redacting, but please consider telling me how things went for you and your group. And, if you feel like a whole or partial solution to the core problem ever did come along, that would be great to know, as well. Already documented this someplace else? Know of someone else who did? Links to relevant stories are also greatly appreciated.

If things pan out, I may be contacting a few of you offline for more details, and conceivably, an interview or two. Thanks in advance.

TNoyce's picture

Me 2 and then some

Sharepoint is indeed the cure for something (much like the mould in the sink) but not for communication. I am a project manager by trade and have spent a professional lifetime finding my way around the latest techno-nonsense that will finally, finally give us a grip on our project status and spending.

The latest one is a beast called "Clarity" which is so complex to administer that we have actually had to take on extra staff so that the projects required to use it to do not founder under the weight of its inputs. I am not joking or exaggerating, you cannot even get a printed report out of the thing.

In contrast I have seen project work most effectively administered by a tiny Lotus app that wanted you to upload a standard wordprocessed report (ie the same one you would submit on paper anyway) and give a traffic light (Red Amber Green) to your status. If you wanted the project to get managment attention you put in a Red or Amber and they automatically put you on the agenda of the next management meeting.

I have struggled to use complex support applications from Tivoli to Applix to whadever. I did get effective support from an ancient mainframe mail system that the gurus from engineering monitored faithfully.

The best tools are the simple ones supported by good behaviours. The worst ones are the complex ones whose asymmetric demands compared to value delivered create avoidance and even downright fraud.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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