Puzzle pieces: The sum is greater than the parts

In a world overflowing with content, tools and information, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture — especially when that big picture comprises so many moving parts.

A modern digital workplace strategy is composed of communications, people, process, ideas, information, websites, tools, systems, metadata and more. Putting them together in a way that creates order out of chaos and allows people to find, share, store and process information effectively, well, that is digital workplace nirvana.

A New Way to Look at Digital Workplace Strategy

In terms of digital workplace strategy, connected information systems are not simply greater than the sum of their parts. They are different than the sum of their parts. Gestalt principles teach us much about how human it is to crave understanding, order and organization. More importantly, it can push us to look at our modern digital workplace strategies in new ways.

Popular perceptions of gestalt principles tell us that the whole is greater than the sum of it parts, yet this was not the correct translation from Kurt Koffka, the psychologist who coined the actual phrase, “The whole is other than the sum of its parts.

Russell Dewey, author of "Psychology: An Introduction" writes, “When the perceptual system forms a percept or gestalt, the whole thing has a reality of its own, independent of the parts.”

The intranet is part of the modern digital workplace strategy, but the practice and purpose behind it help provide context and meaning to the whole.

What Is an Intranet?

Corporate intranets attempt to create a single source of truth for company communications and information. Modern-day intranets are living, breathing machines that are usually maintained by knowledge or information professionals.

The intranet is no longer a series of static web pages for one-way communication to employees. Modern intranets are dynamic, communication-enablers, where content and information are consumed, distributed and shared throughout your organization.

DAMs, Intranets, Wikis ... What Does It Matter?

None of these sharing and organizing behaviors are exclusive to digital asset management systems (DAMs), intranets or even Wikis. All are knowledge/information-containing repositories across your enterprise that exist to house company IP, codify tacit knowledge into records and connect people with information.

None of this matters if you aren’t applying metadata, including linked data, across your digital ecosystem and fostering a culture of radical documentation. A culture of radical documentation implies companies know the following:

  • When employees leave companies, knowledge can be lost.
  • Creations are intellectual property and need to be preserved and shared.
  • If you don’t learn from the past, you are doomed to repeat it.

If there is anything that an intranet can teach us, it is that linked data eats silos for breakfast and that a culture of radical documentation ensures preservation of corporate memory, history, processes and knowledge-sharing.

The intranet, the DAM, the wiki, the chat, the email, the metadata, the information and even the chaos — they are all parts, forming a new, “other” whole.

That whole of the modern digital workplace strategy is other than its parts.