Management

IT and IG - Friends or frenemies

Annotated slides from my recent presentation at the Ark Group Information Governance forum:

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Hillary Clinton, recordkeeping, and the protection of process

Image and Data Manager has published an excellent round-up and analysis of the recent revelation that Hillary Clinton chose to send and receive all of her emails while Secretary of State on a private server on her own domain.

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Without trust, Activity-Based Work environments cannot succeed

If you haven't run across Activity-Based Work (or ABW) yet, in all probability you will soon.

This Jones Lang LaSalle report from 2012 provides a typical pro-ABW assessment. The report defines ABW this way:

ABW is a workplace strategy that provides people with a choice of settings for a variety of workplace activities. Rather than forcing individuals to undertake all their work at one

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Decision-making structures of organisations

Recently I read Steve Denning's article about moving away from hierarchical organisational structures. However, I found myself confused about the difference between heterarchy, and responsible autonomy, two alternate forms of polyarchy in opposition to the tradition of hierarchy.

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Why KPIs are not the answer for complex systems (part 3)

What defines a successful organisation?

The answer, of course, is "it depends". But it does amaze me that so many people assume that their answer is normatively better than others.

Let's wind back. Organisations are complex systems, but they are quite different from other social systems for two reasons:
(1) they are intentional, and
(2) they are created for a stated purpose.

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Why KPIs are not the answer for complex systems (part 2)

Let's get something out of the way. A common fallacy about complex systems goes like this: If we could only observe all aspects of a complex system, we could predict its behaviour perfectly.

It's an easy trap to fall into, because in complex systems the chain of events leading to an outcome can be traced after the event. We see this all the time in coronial inquiries and other kinds of port-mortems. But despite the fact that complex systems aren't random, their non-determinism is fundamental.

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TIARA: The essence of a results-only work environment

There is increasing recognition that an employee's performance is rarely determined by how many hours they spend at their desk. While there is a separate discussion on whether it is useful to focus on individual performance at all versus creating a high performing team (the short answer is: it depend), in either case the measures required are similar.

Moving to this type of environment, variously referred to as an activity-based workplace (ABW) or a results-only work environment (ROWE) can be summarised in the TIARA principles:

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The Three Laws of Employment

Isaac Asimov, the legendary science-fiction author, famously invented the Three Laws of Robotics: a hierarchy of three rules which governed the behaviour of the robots in his stories:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Asimov's laws served a narrative purpose: he needed to move his stories beyond the "Frankenstein" trope of robots turning on their master which was prevalent at the time. By ensuring that robots would always serve the best interests of their human masters (albeit as determined by the robots themselves), the impact of robots on society could be explored without worrying about their destructive capabilities.

[Have we considered the implications of the three Laws of Employment?]

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Are staff costs or investments?

Do you agree or disagree with this tweet? ("They" refers to an organisation's staff.)


(Hat tip: Henry Blodget)

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Using Scrum to manage teams

As buzzwords like "agility" and "resilience" gain currency, there is increased interest in Scrum as a general business management tool. However, there is some skepticism since Scrum has historically been mainly used in aid of software development.

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