In Gathering Around the Watering Hole, I said that the workplace’s electronic watering hole is the email system. We use it because we need to interact to complete our tasks; and we use it because it feels familiar, reliable, and safe.
I asked, “What if it is neither reliable nor safe? What if it is simply familiar?”
Is email reliable?
“Email is reliable,” we say, “because it goes exactly where we send it and the replies form the cascade of watering hole conversations.”
Actually, although the email system looks like a watering hole, it is really subterranean tributaries leading to often-uncharted streams. Therefore, it cannot be reliable because its destination is not predictable.
Is email safe?
From uncharted streams … to rivers … to lakes … to oceans… email can quickly escape the grasp of a company; and, when it does, intellectual property and competitive advantage seep away.
So! Email is neither reliable nor safe.
But you already know this. Leaders often warn against improper use of the email system, and the IT team enumerates the risks. However, workers continue to depend upon email to do their jobs. In the end, even company leadership and IT personnel resort to the email system to caution against its abuse.
Here is the actual question:
Why do we use the email system when we know that it is neither reliable nor safe?
First, email feels familiar, and feelings mask the dangers.
“Employees have a false sense of security,” says Bill Miles, Triune Group Program Manager. Despite two decades of warnings, “people still think they are protected,” he says. “In the end, a company’s weakest security link is its own people.”
Second, employees depend upon the email system because it is often the only internet networking tool they feel comfortable using. If the email system is the only internet watering hole, then employees really do need to gather around it to do their work.
Leadership faces a dilemma: “Open collaboration is good, but a company loses competitive advantage when internal information is lost,” Bill says. In the end, leadership protects secure or proprietary information by restricting watering hole usage.
For 13 years, Triune Group has built and administered the U.S. Air Force’s secure, collaborative internet workplace: Air Force Knowledge Now (AFKN), an environment where security is a priority because the safety of our nation is at stake.
Today, the next generation of that community-based environment is commercially available: KnowledgeNow.
Triune Group started at the watering hole and evolved its system around the needs of those who gather there. At the same time, Triune Group evolved structure and tools to protect company information and knowledge.
I invite you to see how we do it. Click here to take a walking tour of KnowledgeNow.
Contact us by phone (937-427-9900) or email to learn more about Triune Group and its services.
Next ... Focused Community: the Core of Successful Internet Communication