The other day I was asked to write an article for our company’s intranet portal. The first thing which came to my mind was “no one would read it.” Well, probably few people would but not many more.
You might say I have a sad view of humanity, and you’d probably be right, but I kind of lost enthusiasm to systemic attempts to spread knowledge within organizations. And I mean here all things like intranet news sites, internal corporate blogs, knowledge bases, company magazines etc.
In theory, as long as you have at least a few dozens of people on board, these things are great. They have no weak points. There are a couple of leaders who organize site/blog/magazine/you name it, then there is a group of producers who work on content and then there is a vast majority who consumes all the stuff.
That’s the theory. In practice first two groups (leaders and producers) are rarely a problem. The problem is people don’t give a shit about your news site, blog, knowledge base and magazine. They couldn’t care less whether they might learn something from there. People just don’t want to learn.
Scott Berkun recently shared his thought why the world is a mess in general (read not only the post, but comments too). His conclusions are that people don’t listen and don’t read either. This actually supports the theory I offer above – even if you take the effort to create a gem or two and drop it into your intranet portal no one would read, no one would notice.
Actually not willing to learn, listen and read are just symptoms. And yes, there’s a single disease behind them all. People are lazy. They don’t learn because it’s easier to leave things as they are. They don’t read because skimming takes less effort. They don’t listen because trying to genuinely understand what other are saying is hard, much harder than just waiting for your turn to speak.
Note, I don’t say I’m not lazy. If I have problems with motivating myself while working at home that’s exactly because I am. If I tend to procrastinate most of housekeeping tasks, like fixing the lamp or securing a shelf to a wall, the reason is the same. Scott may be no different by the way.
Now, before you tell me that I’m over-generalizing, I know that. The same as you know that most people fit the picture above. When I look at statistics for recent articles on the intranet site I see that less than 10% of people in the organization read them. So when asked whether I would write an article on Kanban to be published there I wanted to answer with something like “I write about goddamn Kanban at least one every two weeks on my goddamn blog which you may find typing my goddamn name into goddamn Google. I did two goddamn presentations recently and sent goddamn links to two thirds of folks within the goddamn company. Shouldn’t that be enough for pretty much anyone here to find a goddamn article on goddamn Kanban?”
But now when you ask, I will write the (goddamn) article. It is worth helping people even if just 10% of them care. And it might make me look less lazy too. You know, I just aspire to be in to 10% of population.