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March 1, 2005: Stop the Pendulum: I Want to Get Off

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  • Louis Rosenfeld
    March 1, 2005: Stop the Pendulum; I Want to Get Off Although Gerry McGovern makes good points in his latest article and elsewhere, I m really uncomfortable
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2005
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      March 1, 2005: Stop the Pendulum; I Want to Get Off

      Although Gerry McGovern makes good points in his latest article and
      elsewhere, I'm really uncomfortable with this statement:

      "The natural home of the intranet is in communications."

      I'm not sure that any single department can be the home for a
      multi-departmental intranet or, for that matter, a large public web site.
      Can Communications really be responsible for the accuracy of the highly
      technical documentation that Product Development is churning out? Can it
      manage the tuning of the intranet's search system without some help from IT
      staff? Can Communications (or any one business unit) conceive of--much less
      assemble and manage--the kind of multi-disciplinary team required to design
      and manage a truly quality information system? What about organizations
      which don't have centralized Communications departments?

      Maybe I'm not clear on what a "natural home" means. I do know that much of
      the Web's success can be explained by its decentralized nature--in effect,
      web sites exist because they don't require a single home or owner. If this
      wasn't true, wouldn't the Web have been nipped in the bud by some
      centrally-administered enterprise application years ago?

      There are really many natural homes for different aspects of our information
      systems, from design to branding to evaluation to the workflow of content
      creation and publication. Some of these aspects benefit greatly from
      central control, such as branding; others require local and even multiple
      owners because they simply couldn't or shouldn't be owned by one unit.
      Content creation is a good example.

      I realize that provocative statements have their uses. They're easily
      consumed, digested, and remembered. They make for nice quotes in other
      people's PowerPoint presentations. And they are certainly useful to forward
      to lunkhead managers who won't listen to similar pleas that their own
      employees have been making for eons.

      But it's way past overdue to acknowledge that complicated problems require
      more subtle, complex, and often hybrid solutions. In the case of intranets
      and other large web sites, degrees of centralization and local control can,
      must, and already do co-exist in countless combinations. The challenge is
      to step back and look for opportunities for improvement through two things:
      more rational centralization where it makes sense, and more rational
      decentralization where it makes sense. The alternative is to continue with
      an either/or mentality, swinging continually from failed attempts to impose
      central control to failed efforts to empower departmental and individual
      employee autonomy.


      Gerry McGovern's latest column ::
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