In my previous ministry life at Christian Leadership Ministries, I was very involved in implementing Lotus Notes and seeing the resulting corporate shift in how knowledge was shared. It took a while, but the result was a much more knowledge-aware group through the use of Notes’ collaborative environment. Creation of simple online applications using Notes’ rapid application development gave new capabilities. Working together on virtual teams became not only possible, but embraced by many of the the CLM staff members scattered around the U.S.
Now I’m in our corporate Exchange environment. The Exchange client, Outlook, is very user-friendly. But I miss the collaborative environment and it’s new ways of working together and the simple but rapid application development environment of Notes. I have an ongoing feeling of being less effective than in the Notes environment.
So I read with interest several articles as Lotus Notes celebrated its 15th birthday last week. I recommend an interview with Ray Ozzie, the innovative software designer behind Lotus Notes and now Groove. What I appreciate about Ozzie is that he starts from observations about current realities, processes those through philosophical foundations about how people work well together, and then creates solutions that embed this philosophy. The result is software solutions that are both innovative and helpful but also philosophical consistent. They encourage users to collaborate without being overbearing. These solutions guide you in best practices without being heavy-handed.
Some of Ozzie’s comments that might shake us up (but I agree with):
- The concept behind Groove came from an assumption, or belief, that the fundamental nature of business was changing from a centralized model with large companies that were firmly integrated to essentially a separation of corporations, working in a more distributed fashion. Notes, essentially, was built for a large global enterprise environment, not necessarily for the task of flowing data in an inter-enterprise manner.
- E-mail is showing its age and limitations.
- And really, this [email] concept that we will be managing as individuals, all of the projects and all of the relationships that we’re dealing with from within one inbox, just doesn’t scale. We’re in a world of information overload and it will be perpetually that way. There is nothing that is going to slow down the fact that we are working electronically with many people. Individuals are feeling that overload, and they’re experimenting with different tools such as instant messaging, blogs … things that are alternatives to doing work with one another online but outside of e-mail.
I hope you find Ozzie’s thoughts as interesting as I do.