Access to information is not critical anymore, what is now critical is the way information is handled ...
Many top managers still think and still say to their employees that their high management position allows them to have a sort of "information privilege", i.e. that they possess or have access to all kind of economic, marketing, and other information, that is unreachable by people who are not in a top management position.
Those managers want to make people understand that this perceived information differential is one of the sources of their so-called power or authority. This happens even in companies where many employees have either access to the company's INTRANET, or are connected to INTERNET at home (or in the office also). So, how come so many top executives still think that way? Actually, how can they say this and keep a straight face?
Because, when you have access to the Web, either through your company's INTRANET or directly to the World Wide Web through your direct connection to INTERNET, the very first lesson that anybody learns is that:
* Access to information is not critical anymore, what is now critical is the way information is handled.
* Many good things are bound to happen in the way you manage your company and in the way you deal with your employees:
Greater gap between competent and incompetent managers
If people can be so easily informed about so many things so quickly, how can any manager control each and every bit of information his employees have access to? How can these managers still want to control whether people are "learning too much", or are getting "too intelligent", or "too informed". Those managers are usually afraid that the upgrading of the employees' knowledge can entice them to be more demanding in terms of salaries of quick promotion, etc.
Their lack of competence as managers drives them to a weak self-assurance and to a constant multidirectional fight against whoever is improving too much and too quickly, thus endangering their own position. On the contrary, a competent manager will consider that a constant exposure of his employees to updated information and to all kind of learning tools, is actually a great asset for him. He knows that his department will then always be on the growth and success path, thus making him more indispensable, even though employees would be more demanding or if they deserve to be quickly promoted. He knows that learning is one of the main issues that keep employees happy, motivated, and continuously more productive.
Promotion based on information management skills
The importance of the employee is not anymore reflected by how much "reserved" information he has access to. Most probably, a large part of this "reserved" information can also be easily accessed by many other employees. And importance, if ever there was one in that context, is usually based on something that some person is the only one to do, or on something that he/she can do better than anybody else. This differential importance may have existed when powerful information technology was only accessible to the few.
If you want to make a difference now, you should prove your skills in handling, synthesizing, and managing huge amounts of data better than anybody else, and in a way that is useful to the activity of the company. It is on that basis that you will be noticed by top management, if this top management knows what is best for the company. Together with your human and leadership skills, it is also on that basis that your promotion will make more sense. Actually, this is directly related to any effective learning process: learning is effective when you know how to use what you learnt, not when you are only able to memorize all the data that was brought forward to you.
Training programs will be more easily effective
The fact that people can easily and cheaply go to any one of an infinite number of World Wide Web sites, is certainly going to provide them with a rich basis of general culture. The fact that the INTERNET / INTRANET environment is also a multimedia environment makes it even easier and stimulating for them. This is one of those ideal instances where acquiring culture is really fun. This knowledge basis is what any instructor dreams about when he/she starts a training program. It pushes the learning curve up by letting people assimilate any new teaching better and more easily.
Bureaucratic procedures shall be minimized and made more efficient
When computer workstations with at least an INTRANET connection are installed on an increasing number of employees' desks, when those employees can quickly send and receive messages and instructions through E-Mail, when security is assured by individual passwords and access codes, who needs to send back and forth multiple copy administrative papers and memos, for endless iterative signatures? Wouldn't this let us advance quickly toward the much dreamed of "paperless organisation"?
Useless meetings will disappear and useful meetings will become more effective
Many companies complain that their managers spend their time endlessly in an endless number of meetings. A large part of these meetings is spent informing people about the subject at hand because documents had not reached the participants on time prior to the meeting, and a too small part of these meetings is actually spent on trying to solve whichever problem caused the meeting to be scheduled.
If those participants were connected to the INTRANET, no delay will then be possible in sending them information about the problem that would be discussed in the next meeting. Also, many meetings will appear useless, because the issue at hand could be solved through bilateral chats on the computer, letting each party continue to do his normal work on his desk, or access immediately whatever file is needed to advance in the solution of the problem being discussed.
For the same reasons as above, team work sessions and other "task force" meetings shall be made much more effective: much more work will be done in much less time.
Companies will be progressively bound to think "Process" instead of being stuck within functional links in a department: It is now widely known that many activities that a company needs to develop and many problems that a company needs to solve, require the direct involvement of employees working in many varied departments. If those employees use adequately their INTRANET and E-Mail, cross-departmental communication for the above purpose shall be made easier and more effective.
Companies will be bound to think "Service" more than "Product"
INTERNET and INTRANET users will quickly find out how easy it will be for competitors to copy or even improve the technical features of most new product launched in the market place. Consequently, those users will come to the conclusion that their company's competitive edge shall come now from how well they attend their customers, and, in general, from the continuous upgrading of their personal relations with them, i.e. from their "service" to the customer. This cannot be copied as a result of an extensive usage of the Web. Actually this increased importance of the "service" is exactly what is going to make companies successful in today's market.
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