Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More Help from New Books

I am continuing to read Douglas Merrill’s “Getting Organized in the Google Era.” (Random House, 2010). Compared to what I have read in other books and articles on this subject, Merrill offers a unique way to approach the problems we face in getting our lives together. A third of the book gives us insight into new ways to approach our life in the 21st century and challenges us to take a really good look at what we are doing that is out-of-date and no longer relevant. We need to consider what we can do to change those patterns and use new technologies to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. He continues numbering his principles of organization. His sixth principle I found to be particularly intriguing, being what I like to think of as an information professional. Douglas Merrill’s Organization Principle Number Six is: “Knowledge is not [or is no longer] power. The sharing of knowledge is power.” Merrill points out that we no longer succeed by hoarding knowledge to build ourselves into “unique” indispensable beings at the center of an organization but rather by sharing and combining our individual knowledge with others’ knowledge - by “building a team.” He points out that this is particularly advantageous when we share with others who are different than us in style, background and approach. Perhaps that is the secret of the combined knowledge of our De-clutter Club.

The next principle - Organizing Principle Number Seven - is “Organize around actual constraints, not assumed ones.” His point here is to encourage us to recognize what constraints or limitations we might personally have that hold us back from getting organized, or from doing anything else that we wish to do. This process will hopefully lead to finding ways to rethink the way we “have always done” things and eventually overcome those constraints by the logical use of technology. However, the principle reminds us to focus on actual constraints, not assumed constraints that may have been “based on past experience, history, what others have told you, or the structures of society” so that we don’t “waste time and energy on things we can’t really change.” In identifying our constraints, he tells us to apply Organizational Principle Number Eight, “Be completely honest – but never judgmental – with yourself.” Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses and get feedback (and agreement) from your family and friends – those that know you the best. The purpose of this exercise is to discover “patterns of behavior that cause you to ‘get in your own way.’”