3 min read

😕n Information Silos 🏝️

or: for the love of goddess just make the apps you have work
😕n Information Silos 🏝️

If you’ve ever held a customer facing role, be it retail/food service/front desk/helpdesk you know the pain of having to answer ill-phrased questions

me, wo-manning the help queue as a lowly SRE, contemplating my life choices

and when you have no poker face, like say me, sometimes you look like this ^ which is why its a good thing I work remotely 🫥 🫥 🫥

To be clear it is not the question asking itself that is inherently frustrating but the clear patterns that arise when you are on the receiving end of a deluge of low-context questions in a large organization of humans with no agency or ability to tackle the root of the issue.

Having the….joy? privilege? experience?  of plugging myself into several different tech companies I have seen first-hand the rot and decay of information and knowledge despite the panoply of productivity/wiki software wasting god knows how many resources.

Islands of knowledge silo between whatever a group or individual’s preferred software/tool is build up cruft quarter after quarter. Thank the lordess for “this document was last updated” timestamps.

I argue that precisely because organization’s information architecture and dizzying array of 3rd party tooling are unmaintained wrecks - or at least each group only focuses on their step in the workflow - that is the fertile ground for creating a culture of Shit Questions and wasting the most valuable resource - human time/attention/focus.

What enrages me is when tool sprawl is allowed without setting up integrations and syncs between the tools (which feels like always). The fact that you could walk into most orgs and find 3+ different project management tools is absurd. The existence of roles that are focused on entirely managing the communication and coordination flows between different groups (made so so much harder by tool sprawl) is also ridic.

I cannot underscore how much of this is literally just ppls FEELINGS and Stockholm Syndrome with their tool of choice. Even worse is accepting this as a way of doing business, the amount of times I’ve heard “oh you know a new VP comes in, needs to make his mark”.

the lovely trixie mattel

….um. scuse me?

last I checked organizations run as a collective group and just bc Jim Bob loves Microsoft Word (or whatever) doesn’t mean that should become the de facto tool for his org, or if he’s some powerful exec …the whole company. UGH.

I make my business app choices the same way I made my tech stack choices as an engineer - what already exists at the company? would the org have capacity to run it in me/my team’s absence? if nothing existing fits, what is the next best solution out there?

In a future issue I’ll dig into what makes a Shit Question and my own Artful Inquiry practice.

But to tie this up with a 🎀 -

I believe that Shit Questions that create ongoing wasteful workstreams arise in organizations that have a lack of discipline around maintaining a centralized knowledge base with standardized patterns for info architecture and disdain for Atlassian (at least within the tech world).

Questions I Have Asked Today

  • Do I have to get out of bed?
  • Was that the Final Final alarm so do I really really really now have to get out of bed?
  • How are you?
  • Did I take my meds?
  • When is my first meeting?
  • Why why why?
while not as dramatic I did have a Mocha Incident in the car leading to the “why why why”

Some Questions I Asked Last Year

  • What is our responsibility as humans to Earth and each other?
  • When a being dies what happens to those who remain?
  • What do I want my legacy to be?
  • Why am I like this?
  • How does one lead a “good” life?


Norman siloing himself in a box