You can lead a horse to water…

…But, you can’t make them click on a website.

When you are part of a team you all need to be on the same page. Sharing of information is key. As a result, much of the world today involves collaboration. There’s those big old video conferencing systems which allow you to not only be (electronically) in the same room, but also allow you to share and edit documents, presentations, even funny cat videos from YouTube with people from all over the world.

Even Microsoft has gotten into the game with their typically hard to use, way over featured SharePoint application designed to allow those on a team at work to collaborate, share, edit and do that “whole is greater than the sum of the parts” thing.

Everyone at my company craves information.

Sales: “Give me the tools so I can sell.”
Product Management: “Show me the data so I can make an informed decision.”
Finance: “What were our margins over the past 2, 3, 4 quarters?”
Me: “How much PTO do I have left?”

Information is often developed by one group and consumed by another. Getting the information in the right hands is one of the larger challenges.

One of the things we’re taught since a young age in life is to Teach People to Fish vs. Fishing For Them. What does that actually mean? Well, put simply it says that if you continuously provide fish for people they get dependent on you to continually give them fish. Hello, all levels of U.S. governments – take a hint! But, I digress…

Contrast that with, if you teach them how to fish, they’ll be able to feed themselves on their own and you can sit in a beach chair sipping fruity beverages.

I take this to heart in my job. I’m not talking about sitting on a beach with a fruity beverage instead of sitting in my flickering fluorescent lit little slice of Cell Block D. No, I’m talking about teaching people how to fish.

What I’m talking about is providing information and tools to my coworkers so they will leave me the hell alone excel at what they do. I provide them with websites, both internal and external. I provide them with presentations, spreadsheets, data sheets and material for press releases. And, after spending the better part of 8 months figuring out how the fuck to title a folder, I finally can provided them with SharePoint folders chock full of information. Hell, I even have archive files for them to get all the old stuff too!

So, how’s that all worked out for me?

Coworker replying to an email I sent last week announcing new materials for my latest project: Hey CV, I need that data sheet for that cool project. Where do I get it?

Me replying to the reply: You mean the one that’s hyperlinked on line 4 of the email I sent below announcing it?

Coworker’s reply: Yeah that’s the one! You know you should really put this on the website.

Me, second reply after picking my head up off my desk: You know that when you click on that hyperlink on line 4 of the email I sent below how it takes you to the website, well, IT’S THE WEBSITE…oh, you didn’t click it did you?

Coworker’s third reply: Ha Ha! I guess I should really read these emails. Hey, at least I didn’t reply to all and make a total fool of myself.

No, you only made a partial one of yourself. That is unless I purposely accidentally hit send to All Company. Ooopsie!

This example highlights the waste of time spent on the above exercise. Now picture similar dialogs happening at least 1-2 times a day. Sure, they vary in subject, but the challenge still remains – how do I teach them to fish?

I can do a lot sure, but even my company does a lot to help. They provide the SharePoint tools, the webpages, etc. We have desktop search capabilities and even use Google as both our web and intranet search tool. Come on it doesn’t get any easier than the Google machine. Heck you don’t even have to spell it correctly to get to the right info.

But, maybe I should look in the mirror. What could I be doing better to help my brethren?

    • Post it on the public and internal websites – Check.
    • Post it on the company newsletter – Check.
    • Use the company Facebook and Tweeters – Check.
    • Schedule a couple of webinars (gotta cater to many time zones) to provide the info in presentation form where hundreds of people will sign up and only 8 people will show up – Check.

Well, I guess I could always rent a sky-writing plane and have it fly over all of our buildings on a recurring schedule.

Or, instead of doing that corporate blood drive, I could sponsor a corporate tattoo drive and put the information on everyone’s forearms.

Those are pretty extreme things to do.

Guess, I’ll just do that “send to All Company” thing. After all, it really only takes one click.

********

P.S.
While this post highlights some of the challenges that I go through on a daily basis, it in all seriousness pales in comparison to that which our country and thousands of people went through on this day, September 11th, back in 2001. Additionally, all those who have fought for our freedoms in the decade+ that has followed (not to mention the hundreds of years prior) – You are the ones who have sacrificed a lot, and in many cases all, for me, my family and my friends.
I, we, they Thank You. Cheers.

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About CubicleViews

Observations, thoughts & random bitching about cube life, food, beer, wine, whiskey and sometimes politics. Living the dream in a 6×8 doorless polyester walled cell.
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2 Responses to You can lead a horse to water…

  1. free penny press says:

    ..or you could have all pay “suspended” until each employee is “dummy proofed”..I kid you not, read an email chain yesterday where one employee was saying “does anyone have info on blah-blah”? One person replied (to all of course) “it’s in blah-blah office memo”. The 1st person went back & forth 3 times before her dimly lit bulb went off and said ” Oh, gee whiz (yes, she said those words) I need to read more closely”.. Oi vey!!

    Yes, 9/11 is a day for remberance & faith!

  2. Pingback: The Weekly TPS Report – Sept 14 | The Cubicle Views

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