Association Articles


As anyone who's ever worked for a living knows, organizations don't run on information. They run on relationships - relationships with members, customers and suppliers and relationships between peers and colleagues. Information matters; but it's the quality of the relationships through which information is exchanged that ultimately determines the success of an organization.

So is it any surprise that most organizations are frustrated with their high tech investments. "Information" technology addresses only a tiny segment of the organizational challenge. Organizations need a different technological revolution; a revolution in which the word relationship replaces the word information.

We need to build tools, technologies, and environments that generate productive relationships, not just data rich individuals. The next breakthrough won't be in the individual interface, but in the team interface. Organizational networks need people and partnerships that are more concerned with the relationships these technologies create than with the information they carry.

Our design inspirations should be collaborative relationships. Unfortunately, today some organizations lose sight of the objective for which they were designed, rather than create shared spaces where people can collaborate. The idea of building network architectures that encourage collaboration rather than simply the distribution of data is just beginning to catch on. Some people call this new design ethic interpersonal computing; others call it computer supported cooperative.

This emerging ethic reflects the belief that the old information paradigm no longer works. The mission is now shifting from "networks" - that enable people to better communicate to "worknets" that become a new organizational medium to innovate.

Slowly but surely, organizations are beginning to realize this. Both emotionally and intellectually, people genuinely care about the quality of their professional relationships. Sooner or later, they will grasp for the tools that augment their abilities to collaboratively create. If these tools are appropriately crafted and suitably robust, they will grasp sooner, not later.

E-Mail J.J. Prunty