Human Potential Project Online by Chris Majer

Our mission is very simple. We intend to revolutionize the practice of management!

Central to our work is the belief that the world does not exist as a permanent fixed reality. We human beings are not merely passive observers. We are intentional players, inventors, designers, and creators of our world. And to accomplish anything, we depend on everyday coordination with others. This is where HP2 makes its mark.

Silent Killer #4: Worship of Information

Welcome to the fifth post in our seven-part series on the “modern wastes” that are killing most companies’ productivity and profitability. We’ve already discussed the first three: Degenerative moods, not listening, and bureaucratic styles. This week, we’ll examine the fourth silent killer—worship of information. In our rush to “modernize” everything and make our enterprises more efficient, we have mistakenly come to believe that information is our most valuable commodity. But data and information are useless without human beings to interpret them. These days, computers can do just about anything—except think for themselves. But we have come to tolerate the illusion that the essential matters of work can be invented, managed, and sustained through the creation, storage, retrieval, display, and publication of information. Contemporary information systems are blind to many of the key drivers of productivity and have consistently failed in their quest to integrate the diverse operations of a company. By making information the priority, we have lost sight of its fundamental purpose—to enable the people to effectively address the concerns of their customers. Rather than attempting to replace people, our IT systems, processes, and products should be aimed at enabling the human cooperation, collaboration, and innovation that are essential to growing a business. No matter how impressive or “efficient” an IT system claims to be, it will never replace the passion, joy, creativity, and spontaneity of people—all of which are essential to generating competitive advantage. As people deal with the inadequacies, breakdowns, and sterility of most modern information systems, they find themselves unavoidably generating waste and unproductive moods. In fact, workers report wasting an average 42 to 43 percent of their time on the computer due to frustrating experiences, according to a study by researchers from Towson University, the University of Maryland, and Carnegie Mellon University. Shift Your Understanding Rather than designing information systems to manage the movement and protect the security of information, we should be developing and continuously redesigning information systems that enable people to more effectively communicate with one another, coordinate their efforts, mobilize their resources, and take action. For example, consider e-mail. What was invented as a means to replace the post office has now become the most common management tool in organizations. Rather than walking down the hall or picking up the phone to actually talk to our colleagues or employees, we have replaced conversation with impersonal electronic communication. It was never designed for that purpose and is, in fact, ill-suited to managing the complex web of commitments that are the organization. Concerns for legacy systems and the defense of historical practices must not be allowed to limit the capacity for people to work together effectively. Currently this is the rule, rather than the exception. But a new generation of coordination tools is available, and the innovators of the world are using them.