Human Processes: Network Overload

Staff in many organizations now have a wide choice of ways to communicate with one another:

  1. Email
  2. Mobile phone text messaging
  3. Phone calls
  4. Meetings (including conference calls)
  5. Regular stand-ups
  6. Desktop instant messaging
  7. Public social network messaging (for example, Twitter)
  8. Application-specific notifications (status updates from their document management system, approval requests for invoices, and so on)
  9. Intranet posts (company news, technology briefings, workgroup updates, and so on)
  10. Comments in shared edits of documents
  11. Workflow (document management, back office and operational systems)

On top of all this, there's the latest “must have” – a private social network. I wonder what value will be delivered by this particular addition to enterprise infrastructure…

I don't want to add to what I call “Network Overload” for anyone, so am going to keep this column brief. There is significant danger in confusing communication with collaboration – a danger exacerbated by the marketing tactics of some software vendors. For example, a leading private social network vendor describes their offering as “a private social network that helps employees collaborate across departments, locations and business apps.” This is quite wrong. The product doesn't help employees collaborate – it helps them communicate.

CIOs without this understanding will invest in tools that further saturate staff with time-consuming interactions that deliver little business value. By contrast, CIOs with this understanding will invest in tools that empower staff to achieve their objectives, by supporting the 5 principles of VTP:

  1. Effective teams
  2. Purposeful communication;
  3. Use of knowledge;
  4. Prioritization of time;
  5. Responsive planning.

That's it. I'll stop here, so you have time to welcome a few more people to your employer's private social network for a discussion of sandwiches. I like smoked salmon and cream cheese. Then perhaps a flapjack. But only if I missed breakfast. How about you?

Keith Harrison-Broninski

Keith Harrison-Broninski

Keith Harrison-Broninski is a consultant, writer, researcher and software developer working at the forefront of the IT and business worlds. Keith wrote the landmark book "Human Interactions: The Heart And Soul Of Business Process Management", described by reviewers as "the overarching framework for 21st century business technology" and "a must read for Process Professionals and Systems Analysts alike". Keith founded Role Modellers, whose company mission is to develop understanding and software support of collaborative human work processes, the field Keith pioneered with his work on Human Interaction Management. For more information about Keith, see
Keith Harrison-Broninski

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  1. Arne Skaalure says

    Thank you for the concise article and perspective. What is VTP?

  2. Keith

    Good article. thanks for sharing


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