attention to information as an essential #organisationdesign building block

Information exchange plays an important role in organisations. Information is instrumental in forming the actual organisation. In a way every organisation is an aggregation of specific information. There is the logo of an organisation, the symbol of unity of an organisation. There is information embedded in products and services. There is the external and internal communication that defines the organisation. There are the memo’s and instructions and procedures. There are the words in the description of function groups and responsibilities. There are graphics of the organisation charts. There is the way all operational information is handled and represented.

The diversity of information with regards to organisations is large. And due to the progress of technology the means and the formats to communicate have increased enormously. The choice is mind-blowing and there is a constant rat-race not to miss the newest, hottest (or coolest), most awesome info-channel to get your message across.

At the same time something odd is going on. The choice and liberty of formats is only partly used. There are a lot of websites that have their contact button at the left upper corner. Why? The freedom of format in tools like Facebook or Twitter is close to zero. OK, people love predictability and want things they recognise. And yes, we want people to use it and not be bothered by technique. Nevertheless, compared to what could be possible, only a fraction is used.

And in that sense, the enormous opportunities associated with these advanced and sometimes really great ways to exchange information, are missed. People in organisations forgo the innovative and powerful information tools to newly define and build organisations.

Maybe it is because taking advantage of the wonders and power of information requires more than just a page on Facebook. It requires clear thought about the message and the ideas behind what you want to express, deep thinking about how to engage people in an organisation, creative thinking about the right format and the most suitable medium. And as a leader, you can not leave that to communications professionals, you have to be involved. The responsibility for the way how information shapes the organisation, how information reinforces the values and the believes of an organisation, how information forms the glue between people and becomes instrumental in the actual workings of the organisation, is something that requires attention, personal attention.

Specific words and images in a specific context have incredible meaning. This is a powerful idea for everybody who wants to create and develop organisations. Attention to how that works and how to create those words and images that have that meaning is like being a sculptor, a sculptor of information that builds beautiful organisations.

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This infographic from 1841 drawn by Charles Joseph Minard depicts the campaign of Napoleon to Moscow.

A most instructive way to illustrate deathly hubris and an example of the power of  the format of information. And that was long before internet came to life.

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