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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Unbearable Stickiness of Information

A few days ago Susan Richardson raised the issue of Sticky Information in her "Joining Dots" blog.
On the one hand, we can be very lazy about acquiring information (Google trumps the local library for starters), spectacularly avoiding it when we don't like what it tells us. But on the other hand, when we find information that fits our expectations, it becomes very sticky and we are reluctant to let it go. I believe this has important consequences for information systems design.
Susan talks about the importance of bearing stickyness in mind when publishing information on organizational intranets or extranets. The importance of information as determined by staff and board may bear little relation to what is truly sticky to the readers.

The stickiness of information needs to guide the communication efforts of IT project managers - and I'm thinking of both in-house staff and external assistance providers. In a recent post I explored briefly Ciborra's ideas of hospitality and hostility towards information systems. I bet each user's position on this spectrum will determine to some extent what news and information about his organization's technology is the stickiest in his mind. The one or two temporary glitches in your big server migration may be remembered long after all the users are routinely enjoying all the benefits of the new platform.

The "Sticky" factor does not just relate to your management of "news", but to the management of the technology itself. It may be worth delaying an implementation to be absoultely sure that there are no glitches, even in low-risk situations where the cost of additional testing is greater than the hard costs of staff encoutering a problem. There is a significant though hard to measure return on any investment you make toward moving your staff the Hospitality pole, and a very sticky penalty if you fail to do so!
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