Technology and Organisation

So many organisations install Exchange for its calendaring features. But is this a path to organisational heaven or hell?
A group calendar does not suddenly make your organisation organised … in fact having the ability to put events in other peoples’ calendars may lead to greater friction - the technology by itself may actually interfere with good organisational practices.

The process of organising meetings in a paper and pencil world consists of communicating the need for a meeting, inviting participants, convincing them to come and scheduling the meeting. A lot of communication and attention is required. In the electronic age, if you are lucky an invitation is sent out and people click the attend button - in the worst case an entry gets put in the group calendar.

The communication and attention before the meeting has value - it focus’s the mind. It also reduces the dictator problem (we go because we are told to not because we see the point in it).

The counter argument is that the technology will be catalytic to change - we get the new technology and it will be all so easy we will change our behaviour. Unfortunately, this does not tend to be the case for 2 reasons:
  • the negative usages of the technology are as easy to use as the positive - the technology can generate problems as easily as solutions - resulting in resentment and disappointment
  • changing people is far harder than changing technology - old habits die hard and new habits don’t form quickly - so although people may try out the features of the technology, unless they are committed to change the technology is unlikely to be a sufficient reason to make the personal changes in habit required to move to the new

This leads me to conclude that organisations seeking better organisation should make the cultural change first - get organised - then get the technology second; it is far more likely to succeed this way.