My clients and my workshop participants over the last few years will be very aware of my focus on identifying tasks and decisions that have to be made in designing intranets and implementing search. In developing information management strategies I like to work backwards from decision and task analysis to defining what information/data needs to be made available and how it should best be accessed. In that way the impact on the organisation of effective information management can be positive, immediate and measurable.

However I often feel that I am treading a lonely path in this approach, so was delighted to be alerted to a new book from Gower Publishing entitled Decision Sourcing – Decision making for the agile social enterprise. The authors are Dale Roberts (Artesian Solutions)  and Rooven Pakkiri (Collaboration Matters). Reading this book has been a delight both because of the content and the style of writing. In addition the authors have combined an almost endless array of case studies (many from the UK) with a very sound knowledge of published research and experience in this topic.

Rather than list the chapters it may be more useful to pick up on just some of the topics

  • The relationship between decision making and organisational success
  • The real difference between data, information and knowledge
  • How the enterprise social graph replaces the organisation chart
  • What is missing from decision support
  • The convergence of social and analytics for collaborative decision making
  • Why social listening is more authentic than questioning and polling
  • How the agile social enterprise engages everyone in decision making
  • Clearing up the confusion between consensus and collaboration

This list should convey the very broad scope of the book. I especially liked the Seven Interaction Model for decision making and the discussion about roles in decision making in a networked organisation. The authors have provided a good list of references but the inclusion of screenshots from some commercial products (e.g. IBM Connections) does not add value and several of the diagrams look as though they have been lifted from PowerPoint presentations.

My own approaches to decision-based information strategies have been developed pragmatically through consulting projects and this book has reassured me that others have been taking similar approaches and come to similar conclusions.  The authors are not prescriptive in saying “This is what you should do” but provide evidence and insights that will make you think differently about information support for decision making. Overall this is a book I would strongly recommend to managers with the responsibility for making sure that intranet, collaboration, socialmedia and digital workplace platforms deliver value to the organisation.

Martin White