It’s not just about the data…

I was sitting in a traffic jam yesterday and there was nothing on the radio so my mind drifted and I started thinking about a couple of things that drive me..that I am passionate about, that I think are HUGELY important. There’s quite a list (ok stop rolling your eyes, it’s not that big) but here are the top three:

  • Communication. It should be in the format of the recipients choice, there should be a feedback mechanism and it should be frequent and comprehensive.
  • Feedback. I only know about 3 people who are really good at giving and receiving it. Everyone else…I never see it. How hard is it to tell someone you really liked their story, presentation, communication, whatever? They will LOVE you for it!
  • Information Sharing. It makes me so grumpy when people don’t share their information. And when they use the excuse because “it’s not yet final”, or “it hasn’t been approved yet” I have a really hard time hiding my body language so it’s not blatantly obvious that I think they are neanderthals…

So I am mulling these things over while sitting in traffic and I’m listening to a news story about a small group of ‘green’ keeners who have started a new thing called ‘Trash parties’. They invite people into their homes for good food and conversation, and then the host brings out the garbage for others to poke through and make suggestions on how they can be better at recycling.  At this point I’m thinking about that moldy three-week old chicken I found in the back of the fridge and tossed in the trash and wondering if they clean out their trash before the company comes. Kind of like those people who clean their house before the cleaning lady comes.

Anyway, I was mulling this over when my mind drifted back to the information sharing peeve of mine and thought what if…what if we did kind of the same thing with our information? We all have tons and tons of information in our personal private folders. You know those 3 versions of documents that are still in draft format? The important emails that house decisions that we have saved…the PDF’s that house industry knowledge? What if we invited our colleagues to poke through our information to see if there was something there that would be of value to them?  I can think of a couple of benefits to this:

  • Like the green keeners, we’d probably do a quick scan first and get rid of the triplicate versions of the same document.
  • We’d also remove some of the industry knowledge white paper stuff that is out of date (I’m sure I’ve got white papers from 2004 on the magic quadrant for CRM solutions).
  • All this pre-sharing information clean-up would help free up some much-needed server space.
  • And our colleagues might find some tidbit that we thought nothing of but could be something really important from their perspective!

The result of all this could be that those of us who don’t like to share might get a little more comfortable sharing information. And maybe, just maybe, we all start to have a better understanding of why all those silos of data and information might not be a good thing.

Ok, so maybe it is all about the data..

7 thoughts on “It’s not just about the data…

  1. Rob Drysdale

    Great post about information, sharing and feedback. Your thoughts on sharing our email folders and personal file folders is interesting to me. Each and every one of us has our own “silo” of data when it comes to this information as we all have different motivators for what we keep and how we keep it. I think some of us (yes, I’m including myself here) keep way too much stuff “just in case” and could eliminate some of it if we put our minds to it and maybe had some feedback from others on their perspective on keeping it or not.

    The other point you hit on is one I’ve always wondered and struggled with and that’s the knowledge transfer for people that move around between departments and organizations. How does a new person find out about some of those things that were communicated 3 or 4 years ago via email? This is especially a problem where there is limited information sharing and feedback.

  2. Jim Harris

    I really liked your blog post, Jill!

    (That counts as feedback, right? 🙂 )

    I definitely agree with all three of your excellent points.

    But I can’t help but ask, regarding the first one, what if the preferred communication format of the recipient is interpretive dance?

    As for the allowing my colleagues to sift through my personal data silo (more like my personal information junk drawer) of drafted documents, half-formed ideas, and my plans for taking over the world (Pinky and the Brain style, of course), not sure that would be a good thing 🙂

    Structured, unstructured, interpretive-dance-semi-structured…it’s always all about the data…

    Best Regards,


  3. sheezaredhead Post author

    Thank you for the great comments everyone.
    Ellen, I thinks so too. Do I see it happening, probably not. Although we might try it amoungst ourselves and see if we get the expected benefits.
    Rob, thanks for the detailed comment. I see a proliferation of siloed information everyday and you are so right that it results in a lack of knowledge transfer. I wonder sometimes how much this loss of knowledge costs organizations.
    One answer may be a wiki. We set one up to share business terms and definitions but it’s starting to morph in a knowledge base as people start to use it to collaborate and make decisions.
    Jim, I am now having visions of you performing interpretive dance lol! I’ll expect an OCDQ blog post with video soon on that 😉
    Thank you as always for the excellent comments.

  4. Nicole Carriere

    Hi Jill, again a very good post.

    I was thinking that sharing our personal information the way you describe it would make a good business case for the access to information policy. I would then be easier to share information because we would keep only the politically correct info.

    Jim, read you reply and still laughing. I have a vision of you doing this interpretive dance. I’m looking forward to the video.


  5. sheezaredhead Post author

    Thanks Nicole. I like your thinking you forward thinker you!! We can’t find stuff, because we don’t know where it is, and we can’t even determine if it is in fact, an actual record, and therefore subject to ATIP (Access to Information Policy).
    Excellent points!

  6. Jim Harris

    Jill and Nicole,

    Please rest assured that I am now working on the choreography for my Interpretive Dance of Poor Data Quality, which will indeed be upcoming video OCDQ blog post 🙂

    I am open to both choreography and music suggestions…

    Best Regards,



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