When I was in school, I learned a useful maxim: systems do what they are designed to do. This maxim was generally accompanied by an ominous addendum: systems are living things and like all living things will fight to the death to maintain themselves.
I’m not certain I want my information system fighting to the death to maintain itself. Yet it sometimes seems like that is exactly what’s happening. More and more information moving faster and faster threatens known systems designed to organize and control information flow.
Information, like King Kong, shrugs at our silly organizational constraints, flexes its muscle, snapping the ropes, rolling over innovation that stands in the way. Each day I encounter stories of people crushed by their information. One does not have time to set goals when attempting to avoid the foot of a mountainous gorilla. One does not throw a lasso at King Kong and expect to fare well.
There is good news. The operative word in my school days maxim is “system.” While capable of fighting to the death, systems also behave according to specific rules and patterns.
Information systems are designed by people and intended to help people. That’s key. It’s something we forget. People are not separate from the information system; they are central to the system. They are the point of the system. People are the creators of the system.
Our info-gorilla has grown beyond our capacity to contain it, so strategies of containment are no longer useful. Words like, “organize” and “manage” have entered periods of uncertainty and are experiencing the first painful phases of reimagination.
Uncertainty signals change.
The system, to use systems lingo, is “disturbed.” It no longer does well what it was designed to do. Disturbance is part of the behavior pattern. Out of disruption, out of uncertainty, innovation always arises. Disturbance is an essential step on the path of renewal.
People do not question their assumptions until they are challenged. Discomfort drives the search for new perspectives. Surprising ideas emerge when people are uncomfortable. Creative tension produces novel approaches.
Discomfort is the force driving the innovators at KnowNow. Each day we ask ourselves whether our response to the disruption will help people exhausted from wrestling with the info-gorilla. It’s our intention: to help.
If you’d like to see what we’re doing to address the disruption, visit KnowNow and sign-up for our early beta program.