The RSS Organization

Lisa Haneberg refers to it as a BKE (Breakthrough Experience) in her essay in More Space. All the pieces seem to fall into place. The picture is unclear, and it is hard to articulate, much less coherently explain it to someone else, but you know it is a significant transition point.

This particular BKE started a week or so when I read People Subscriptions on 43 People, by  Lee Lefever. Something clicked, the idea of creating an on-line identity by aggregating all the feeds from all of your activities. I realize that this is not a fundamentally new idea, mainly just newly synthesized in my head. But the part that has me really excited is applying this concept to  communications  within organizations.

Look at how most organizations communicate internally now:

  • Hierarchical cascade through the chain of command
  • email to anyone and everyone you thinks needs to know  in order to CYA, not that they really care
  • newsletters, virtual and hardcopy
  • townhall meetings and other big venue presentations

…you get the picture. This is all "push". The content producers try to control the message by pushing it to everyone whom they hope to influence. Unfortunately only a small percentage of the information ever makes it through the filters. And oddly enough there are usually people that want the information that never see it. All in all not very efficient, but a world we all know and unfortunately accept.

What if we change the paradigm. What if organizations operated primarily on an information pull approach? Control shifts to the seekers of information. Let every project, every department, every process (basically any and every entity) that exists within an organization manifest as a virtual on-line entity with tags and RSS. (Let’s ignore for a minute the fear and chaos this is likely to cause and assume the necessary skill sets broadly exist.) As a project leader or a department head, I stop focusing on who I need to influence and start focusing on delivering an excellent outcome. Every bit of content the project/department produces gets tagged and syndicated. If my project has value it will be found. Those that want to contribute will be able to do so, Open Source Operations.

I realize that this is worlds away from operations in most (shall we say all) organizations today, but just think of the gains in productivity that could be made with this type of approach. Transparency and integrity are inherently incorporated into the system. Central control, and with it bureaucracy, goes out the window. The best ideas move to the forefront effortlessly. Bad ideas, no matter what power structure conceived of them, quietly drift away.

OK, maybe I am a bit of a dreamer and an idealist, but hey, isn’t that what blogs are all about, the freedom to put your two cents on the table…more to come!

Lexicon, Oops, My Bad

I like the word "lexicon". When I have the opportunity, I like to use it. It makes me feel smart, or something I can’t quite label. It may be because it is a word that many people don’t use, and when I use it I am often asked to clarify its meaning in context. It makes me feel indispensable, or something.

What I am seeing here is that it is all about how I feel, not about communicating in the most effective way possible. Oops, that is not how it is supposed to be!

Stephen Baker has a post today called Why Jargon Leads to Dead-ends. I agree with him completely, even though I tend to dismiss that advise personally. It is easy for me to see how we got into this predicament.

We all tend to operate in such a way as to put ourselves in the best light possible. If I can show that I have value by virtue of my specialized area of expertise, I will tend to do so. Jargon helps to perpetuate the myth. Unfortunately the unintended consequence is that I make myself unintelligible.

If we can ever come to a collective understanding that what is better for the group is better for the individual, then as a society, we may start to turn the corner on the myriad problems that plague us.

This is a topic that I believe to be extremely important and should not be dismissed. Unfortunately as we move more and more into niches, both on the production and consumption sides of the equation, I believe that more jargon will be created, widening the gap between silos.

I have posted and commented on this previously.