On Transparency, Part III

To continue my omphaloskepsis on transparency, I find myself asking the question, “Why bother if they don’t even look for the information?”

A comment on my last post pointed out that the meeting wasn’t the point–the availability of the information was. While I certainly agree, I should mention that nearly all the information was already available in a central repository or two, but people still kept asking me for it. Saying, “go look here” every time seems awfully rude.

Which brings me back to my initial question: why invest the time and energy making the information available if no one uses the resources?

I’ve heard answers to this question like, “You have to train them.” Or, “They might only use the information if nothing else is available, but that’s when it’s really valuable.” While both answers have merit, there’s still one elephant in the room to me: scarce resources.

In this economy, very few IT departments have adequate resources. Some of us struggle to find the bodies for day-to-day support. Others can do that, but run out of bodies if anything goes wrong. Still others can handle those, but can’t do any projects. Given that daily user service is our first priority, how exactly do we find the time to also make information available?

While I don’t have a good answer for the “how” question, I’ve realized that making resources available both internally and externally is worth the time. Why? It all comes back to user service:

  • Users feel better served if geeks can answer their questions more readily.
  • Geeks feel more empowered if they know they have (or can find) information.
  • Users feel less helpless in a crisis if they can find an update faster (or know where to look).

I’m still trying to figure out how to train everyone to look in the developed resource repositories (namely the intranet for the users and the knowledgebase for the geeks), but I’m a little more satisfied that putting the information out there is worth it.