Thursday, June 24, 2010

The other side of Yahoo! - complexity simplified

I hope to have the opportunity to implement a few e-records structures this winter that should resolve whether a heirarchal, designed file structure is needed at all. I've heard both sides of the argument; records professionals arrayed against chaos, and IT gurus challenging why we bother at all.

What inspired me to write twice in one day is a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes on page 141 of David Allen's book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity:

I would not give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity - Oliver Wendell Holmes

I believe it may be possible to implement highly simplified structures for an organization, made up of no more than a dozen major categories, and a few places for non-record creations like drafts, reference materials, and templates.

In order to implement simple, however, the organization has to be committed to following clearly outlined business rules, such as regularly filing and keyword indexing business commitments. Everyone must understand what their obligations are in order for all this to work.

Why so much emphasis on the basics? Because with a tightly defined definition of a record, large volumes of incoming information can be cut out of the flow, being redirected to non-record buckets like Reading/Research. I figure with a good definition only about 5% of incoming information needs to be filed. With a reduced volume to organize and structure, records managers and business users have some hope of managing their business through an e-records system.