The more I learn, the more I learn…


Over the past week I’ve been doing some work-related research on some systems architecture and history. Since the deadline was a little flexible and final deliverables were sufficiently vague, I took this opportunity to pay attention to some information sharing, searching, and general behavioral stuff (yes, I think that should be a technical term). Here’s what I observed and learned (or thought I learned):



As with most things in life, this first stage in this mini-research project consisted of understanding what I was looking for, why I was looking for “it,” and does this fit into something else (another project, who gets the results, what are the results, etc.).

What was I looking for? In this instance all I was given was an acronym and the general context. Not unusual. (A) it is either assumed I know what the acronym is – with or without the context; or (B) I would be able to find out what it was with little trouble.

Paying attention: I’m not an information desk or a librarian. What is clearly at work in this situation is the assumption that I am a knowledge worker. Big whoop, you might be thinking. But, stop and think for a minute. Knowledge work is not just what we know, but also how we know what we know. The process of learning or knowing something. OK, not a Nobel breakthrough, but looking at the requirements stages as the beginning of a learning process…is huge (at least for me).

Why was I looking for it? This is the easiest part of the process. I was asked by a senior manager to dig into this and see what I could find (more or less a crude paraphrasing of the actual request). Again, the context of the request was in relation to a potential corporate opportunity (i.e., new revenue stream).

Paying attention: the ‘why’ of the process boils down to an economic motive or incentive. Not for me directly, perhaps, but for the company. And that’s good for everyone, right?


OK…now, so what?

I’ve got the what and the why, and since the deliverables on this project were vague I’ll leave that part out (final product for those of you on the edges of your seats was a short white paper or backgrounder). But what happens to the many pieces of information that will flow into and out of this project over time? Needless to say this thought sidetracked my on a flowcharting diversion of biblical proportions.

Not just this, but where do all the various information/knowledge objects, things, or bricks fit into this simple request and project development process?

What this reminded me of, of all things, was the old adage to “keep it simple stupid.” I’m sure I could wander around the various psychometric reasons why this particular cliché popped up in this context and find the deeper meaning. What it said to me, however, from the outset is the requirements analysis stage of any project or process – and this applies to the information behavior world. Start with the basics – that’s the simple.


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