There is very little doubt that infogov technology can do all sorts of amazing things: it can help us find information that otherwise would be lost to us, it can alert us to process inefficiencies that we otherwise would be unaware of, and it can speed communication between us as never before.
The problem, though, is that its efficacy isn’t guaranteed, and we THINK it is. Consequently, we’ve come to rely on it almost to the point of abdicating our responsibility to serving ourselves.
Here’s what I mean:
• When we send an email, we expect that it will be received. But we all know that this isn’t always the case – just think of how many times you are told “I never got it!” when you follow up on a message. Granted, people sometimes use this as a cover for having not read it, or forgetting that they have. But many times it’s actually the truth.
• The same is true when it comes to meeting invites, which essentially are emails with calendaring attachments that may or may not be openable by the different messaging platforms they touch. But we tend to think that sent = received, and received = accepted … which means, by the theory of transitivity, that sent = accepted. But, clearly not!
These two functions – email and calendaring – are fairly straightforward in the scheme of things, and yet, they are not 100% effective. Cross-system searching and enterprise process management are much more complex, so what do you think the odds are that they are 100% effective?
The lesson here is twofold:
• First, don’t assume that because you invested in technology, everything is hunky-dory and your work is forever done.
• And second, don’t use “100% effective” as your benchmark for success because it’s frankly unattainable. Instead, set your expectations at “X% better than before” and then be on the lookout for any exceptions. The hard part here is figuring out what X should be, but because it can be adjusted according to your experience, it’s a much better and more realistic way to be.