In the first attempt to describe Findability is Power, I defined the principle thusly:
10. Findability is power – Unfindable information or people are irrelevant.
Ed Vielmetti left this comment:
I'll have to disagree, Jim.
There's lots of unfindable information that's terribly relevant - information (or at least data) that's available only if you know precisely how to ask for it of precisely the right human being with precisely the right words and maybe the right tone of voice or the right letterhead.
If an organization can tax your patience by making it difficult for you to figure something out, it can destroy your desire for it.
Ed is right. And I’m somewhat annoyed at myself for misstating my intentions.
This would be better stated as:
10. Findability is power – Unfindable assets are waste.
The previous post showed how context and other factors change how we relate to information. But I was remiss in not making the whole point.
For business: information, people, and objects are all assets. In order for assets to be worth holding, they need to be usable in some way that creates more value than their cost of storage, management and maintenance.
Jen Zug shows us through her (very timely) tweet that we as consumers now expect findability. We expect to go to KUOW and intuitively find assets.
When the customer does not find what she wants, she gets annoyed.
Annoy me once, shame on you. Annoy me twice, I’m tweeting about it!
Ed’s comment speaks to waste from information not being immediately findable. Whether I’m looking for something at KUOW or within my own company – if I have to fight to find relevant information my patience will wear thin. My push to find the important and relevant information will end when my internal opportunity cost calculator in my brain says, “This is now too much trouble.”
On the flip side, when information is readily accessible, its value is astronomically higher. When I Google something and get the answer in less than a second, the cost of acquisition of the information is monstrously lower than its potential value when I use it for something or even if I discard it.
The required end-value of a use of data needs to be very measurable to obtain it in a person-to-person system. If I need something, it needs to be worth my time, the person I’m bothering, and the annoyance penalty for taking us both away from other things. In a computerized, rapid access world – that same information takes less than a second to obtain and inconveniences no one.
This means that casual queries based on conversations that could prove fruitful in the future are possible. Multiple avenues of inquiry can quickly be attempted, analyzed and discarded with minimal impact on corporate resources. Discovery of unexpected and highly useful information is now much more likely.
I’ll finish up by bringing up Jen Zug again … she expects the information to be findable. So should she. Now, the organization of KUOW has gained her ire. What would Jen have done if she found that content? More than likely she would have tweeted it. She would have said, “Incredible story today on KUOW about Vegemite Soup” (or something) and given a link.
KUOW’s poor findability turned a viral promoter into a viral complainer.
Within a business, poor findability turns innovation into frustration.
Blogged in the Sai Oak in Ocean Shores, Washington