Stop Playing Hide-and-Seek with Information

By November 28, 2012
OfflinePhoto of Dan Latendre

How to harness the power of social technologies and why information needs to be set free (from your email inbox).

According to McKinsey, the average worker spends an estimated 28 percent of the workweek managing e-mail and nearly 20 percent looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks. That means each and every week we spend 1 full workday playing a virtual game of hide-and-seek.

Now, why is that? Well, up until now, much of our focus has been directed towards putting in place rigid organizational structures and complex IT systems in order to achieve operational excellence. Things like: well-defined roles and responsibilities, ERP systems, formal reporting structures and processes that have been optimized to death. And, don't let me get started on email. Our reliance on email as the default communication and collaboration tool isolates content and limits its distribution, leading to the development of silos and the clustering of people based on department or seniority. C-level executives typically interact with other C-level executives, finance staff with other finance professionals and so on and so forth.


The ultimate weakness in this approach is not the importance it places on structure, it's the fact that it de-emphasizes the informal networks within an organization - the relationships that help us tackle situations that may not fit nicely into pre-defined processes and structures. Rather than forcing employees to go up and down hierarchical chains of command, it is these networks that create pathways for the free flow of information and knowledge across geographic and departmental lines.

In Mark Fidelman's new book, Socialized! How the Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social, he emphasizes the fact that open communication and transparency across all departments is critical to success -  if one aspect of the organization isn't on the same page, it can crush the entire company. As CEO of Igloo, I make it a priority to maintain a flat organization and open-door policy. I personally believe each employee brings something different and valuable to the organization. And, even as we scale, social technologies make it possible to maintain this same approach.

According to Fidelman, it's only a matter of time before workers consistently demand to "be part of a culture that encourages communication, collaboration, sharing, openness and transparency, no matter which rung of the corporate ladder they happen to be standing." He goes on by outlining 10 tips that all information workers must follow in order to remain relevant in the next five years.

  1. Define Your Personal Brand
  2. Create Your Personal Community
  3. Use A Blog As Your Home Base
  4. Build A Proactive Presence on LinkedIn
  5. Master One Social Network
  6. Connect With Thought Leaders
  7. Participate In Your Industries Communities
  8. Create Original Content
  9. Monitor, Listen & Respond
  10. Share Content & Engage With People

At the core of his recommendation is a more open approach to sharing knowledge and information. It's about working out loud, rather than hidden behind a cubicle. It's about putting your daily work out into the open, rather than hording knowledge in order to gain power. He notes that this also applies to the corner office stating: "leadership is about making yourself available, present, and accessible, and about engaging with the public and your employees. With the new workforce, trust and transparency equals respect."

What are you doing to increase your organizational value? How does your organization support the formation of ad hoc groups? Share your thoughts below or tweet @IglooSoftware. And, if you have used Igloo to spur collaboration and unlock untapped value inside or outside your organization, I would appreciate it if you could join me in nominating Igloo for Best Collaborative Consumption Service and Sexiest Enterprise Startup for the 2012 Crunchie Awards from TechCrunch.


About the author

Dan Latendre

I am the Chief Executive Officer at IGLOO Inc. I have been working in the technology sector for past 18 years, working with such industry leading organizations such as MKS, Delrina and Open Text…


Thanks for this post, Dan. The idea of mastering one social network is particularly tricky, no? While LinkedIN is a no brainer, finding that social network you must reign supreme on takes alot of effort and knowledge of one's audience. What would you suggest as tips for users who are in search of that ONE social network?



Hey Ali, that is a great point. I think it all depends on what the end user wants and the target audience they wish to connect with.  For Facebook, I personally think it is ideal for two things: to share personal updates among close friends/family and to follow their favourite companies (where they can learn about sales coming up).  I feel LinkedIn is a great hub to connect with other industry professionals, and to share industry relevant articles. With Twitter, I personally feel it is  a bit of a mix - with hashtags, it makes it easier for users to offer their opinions, ask questions and find answers.

So, personally, I think it all depends on what YOU want :) networks are, by creation, quite malleable. However, Christine, with more effective social media dashboards coming out, I am quite compelled to be on as many networks as I can. Its a visibility game, I suppose. I mean what can you NOT control via tweetdeck, hootsuite et al. Choosing ONE, thus, could be limiting!


The visibility game can literally become a game scanning and scrolling through numerous apps to monitor coverage of different topics. One social network is limiting to people who enjoy playing the visibility game. I agree :)


Indeed...I guess we go back to the need for each organization to have a CSO!


The trick in this whole social business game is context. I need content, knowledge to build relationships based on my personal interests, role, and activities I do in the workplace. I also need to be able to filter social content and conversations based on priority (i.e. do I really need this now).

If we can't achieve this... we are just amping up the whole "info glut" phenomenon we created in the workplace with email.

Thanks, Dan....great points..there is much power in social media...but, of course, it must come with control.

Enjoyed this post. Very timely too.


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