440 Davis Court #1602
San Francisco, CA 94111-2496
415 781 5700

April 28, 2001

03 00050 61 01042801

David Stanfield

Subject:   SDS and POIMS Technology

Dear David,

Thanks for your inquiry today about POIMS. Looks like you may be from England?

POIMS explains experience using the Schedule Diary System (SDS), which is a software program that started development in 1983.

In 1998 tools were created to put SDS records on the Internet to improve communication by adding organization, context and connections to ordinary email and correspondence. This provides a form of "web-mail" that delivers intelligence in the sense of an organized, structured and connected environment explained in POIMS. Sometimes people bump into SDS on the Internet looking for subjects discussed in the record, and contact us about SDS, as you have today.

SDS is not currently on the market. There have been discussions about whether there is a customer for improving management. It sounds attractive to provide capability for strengthening organizational memory, reviewed recently on April 20, 2001, to improve productivity and earnings, but it is a complicated subject, especially when the stock market is flying high, seemingly immune to falling productivity and earnings due to rising information overload.

Recent decline in the stock market reported on December 7, 2000 brings the issue of productivity and earnings into sharper focus. This change justifies consideration of demand for ways to strengthen management. Since you took time to inquire, you might wish to comment on identifying a customer profile for the SDS method of improving management.

Better knowledge work requires tools, skills and leadership that synthesize methods from management science, cognitive science and computer science. Knowledge Management is an emerging field moving in this direction, but is slowed trying to create technology, as a complete solution. SDS is an integrated environment to perform a range of common tasks together, which you read about in POIMS. Just improving one or two things does not yield better management. People get discouraged and give up, if tools do not improve earnings and stock prices. SDS yields better results, but takes time to learn, and time for earnings to improve from improving the work. People get discouraged and give up, if they can't become better knowledge workers in 20 minutes. Helping people sustain front-end investment long enough to improve productivity and earnings that reinforce commitment to use SDS is a dilemma. This can be assuaged in some respects by reducing the burden of learning new methods, drawing on the model of a pilot flying complicated, but useful, technology called an airplane. Similarly, an accountant uses a spreadsheet program to help folks keep finances aligned.

Following this tradition, a Communication Manager (analyst, aide, etc.) focuses skill, time and attention to "fly" SDS. Of course anyone can do it, just as most folks could learn to fly a 747, or use a spreadsheet program, if they took the time. However, it appears that a dedicated role may turn out to be helpful for deploying SDS, at least in the near term.

For example, besides learning to use SDS, it takes time to learn how to craft a useful record that captures organizational memory, without causing emotional trauma to others about personal competence and accountability. It, also, takes time to initially learn how, and then to develop on a daily basis, organization that converts information into useful knowledge. These tasks are stressful for some, because it is faster and easier to dash off a response that pops into the mind, rather than add "intelligence" in order to discover and shape what we "know" from new information, and then figure out what to dash off, and plan for collateral impacts that make follow up effective.

The process of SDS can be further grasped by thinking about the common practice of "listening." Good speakers often complain people didn't listen, when intended action is not taken by people listening. This suggests that what people mean by "listening" is that they want others to understand and take intended action, i.e., follow up. SDS improves understanding and follow up, but it can never be faster than relying on innate listening, which is inherently error prone, as explained in POIMS.

In other words, SDS makes good management faster and easier by an order of magnitude, so that productivity and earnings go up, but it is not faster and easier than bad management using spontaneous stream-of-conscious response, which reduces productivity due to continual bumbling. Since there is a lag of months and sometimes years between poor management, and its impact on earnings and stock prices, limited span of attention tends to make productivity, earnings and stock prices a limited factor in customer perceptions of value. That is another dilemma.

Additionally, after learning to use SDS and how to apply it for generating useful intelligence, there remains significant initial fear about the lineaments of organizational memory, because communication and management require some degree of accountability in order to be effective. People tend to prefer being less effective, and not accountable, than to being more productive and more accountable, even if being "accountable" means getting credit for doing a better job. Of course, there are some folks who will take this risk; but, organizational memory needs a lot of folks participating to be effective.

As a result, a lot of people call for organizational memory in the abstract. We all want good "intelligence" on who, what, when, where, why and how things were done, because this enables effective work, which improves productivity, earnings and stock prices, solves energy and environmental problems, and increases the chances of effective medical treatment, etc. But, people don't want information about themselves in the record, because prospectively that could be embarrassing, lead to accountability, etc. It turns out that, if information about individuals is not captured, then there is no organizational memory for anyone. So it it a dilemma.

It, also, turns out that fear about accountability disappears when people get experience working with SDS records. People eventually embrace, support and depend on this capability. But, initial inexperience, i.e., ignorance, creates fear that prevents discovery; so, it is another dilemma.

Accordingly, creating a customer for SDS requires finding a constituency for capturing organizational memory, which is the foundational task of SDS, i.e., basing decisions and action on accurate history, rather than guess and gossip.

This takes courage and leadership, discussed on September 24, 1996.

In sum, Communication Metrics is a management science for developing and using new skills made possible by SDS, both as a technology, and as an advance on traditional practices. Introducing change is always challenging. Improving management, which is highly personal, and therefore linked to self-esteem, self-image, concerns about competence and job security, is a challenge of Promethian dimensions.

If there is a way to identify a customer base for organizational memory , SDS may be made available soon.

Thanks very much for your inquiry and consideration.



Rod Welch