Jon G. Hall CITP FBCS explores organisational information flows and encourages leaders to take a walk through theirs.

This might come as a shock, but I want you to resign. Now. Get that resignation letter written and send it over to HR, as soon as possible.

Here are some tips for your letter. You’ll want to leave on a positive note, so give your letter a professional air. It should be both respectful and positive – don’t burn any bridges. It should say how great it’s been to work with such a helpful and talented group of people. Also, say how you’ve grown, both personally and professionally, in the role. Then wish the soon to be ex-employer all the best. There, you're done.
Of course, you may already be an expert in writing resignation letters. If so, carry on.

You won’t be surprised to know that I don’t really want you to resign – in fact, please don’t do that because of this article. That wouldn’t be good for either of us. The point is to get you to consider how information flows within your organisation. Not just information about your clients and customers, but also data about your employees too.

Focus on data flows

Let me explain. This train of thought was ignited by two recent happenings. Firstly, Jack – a colleague and friend – resigned from his job. Secondly, I read an excellent review of AI in organisations.

So, Jack has just resigned. His masterful letter of resignation (which had all the above attributes and more) was met with an extremely efficient, but also exceptionally abrupt, organisational response. Within hours he’d received a flood of emails: his login would be disabled; his last salary paid on such-and-such a date; his security swipe-card would need to be returned; he would be invited for an exit interview on his last day.

The abruptness left Jack reeling, he told me. He clearly wasn’t a happy bunny when we met for a coffee. The reason? Although Jack knew those comms would come, he’d wanted a human response on this, a significant and very stressful day. Simply a thank-you-for-your-service message would have been nice.

Employees, like Jack, are often thought of last in information flow because social requirements for an Enterprise Information System (EIS) aren’t first class requirements.

Chatbot wars

Returning to my other recent occurrence: reading that excellent review of AI in organisations. After the massive hype over ChatGPT, you won’t be surprised to hear that there’s been a huge spike in research papers about applying ultra-capable AI in enterprise. One excellent late-2022 review gives literally hundreds of examples of AI being applied to everything from customer relationship management to human resources. It’s a good read if you’re looking for AI ideas to apply in your business.

Among this researched list of places where AI could be applied in an organisation, there is however one notable omission: being more human and compassionate in our internal comms.

The stakes are extremely high in the AI industry right now. Ultra-capable AIs are looking to transform the business landscape while the market itself is scrutinising AI products, searching for business advantages.

For you

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Witness the battle between Google and Microsoft and their race to launch their respective AI chatbot products: Bard (Google) and ChatGPT(Microsoft). In an effort to compete, Bard’s demo was ‘rushed and botched’ () and as a result, Google’s share price dropped roughly 13% or $100b over a two day stretch.

Is technology really working for us?

For me, the trouble with technology is this: it’s far too easy to adopt a new technology without understanding its social ramifications. The proper socialisation of technology not only gets technology into an organisation, but gets it used.

So, unless you have immediate plans to replace everyone with AI – and we’re still a few years off from that for most organisations – AI still needs to work with and for your people. Information flows within your organisation that lack the human touch are signs that your workforce may be second-class citizens to the technology.

As the IT leader in your organisation, what effort do you put into understanding the human effects of information flow inside and outside of your organisation? What instrumentation do you use to capture data about these flows? And what emotional effect does information flow have on your employees?

Why not resign, and find out?