JCL Blog


If metadata is data about data, then I say metawork is data about work.  I am sure this is not most accurate translation, but go with me just for this post.

When working on a team information about what you are doing is almost as important as the work itself.  Your team needs to know what you are accomplishing and when you are accomplishing it in order to synchronize the work of the team effectively.  The faster the pace of work, the more important information about the work becomes -- because more of the work is being done in parallel.  

There are many new tools available to make documenting work in progress as easy as possible.  Blogs, microblogs, and wikis are great ways to capture information quickly and make it accessible to the people you work with.  The two things working against efforts to capture information about work are perception about what work is, and security.

What is Work

I count myself as a person who used to think that writing reports, sharing information about work in progress, going to meetings, and other "corporate" mumbo jumbo is a waste time.  I was the first one to say that stuff was not real work.  Real work was making deals and ringing the revenue bell.  

Every organization has a person or two that does the meta part to the extreme.  Their emphasis on building the file for CYA, or trying to win favor from execs by taking credit for the work of others, is enough to turn anyone off on good documentation.

Somewhere between the gun slinger that wants to ride in with the big deal at the end and the all talk no action kiss up is the person with just the right balance of work and metawork.


Those that want to kill off open communication usually sound the security alarm.  Their organizations have barriers to the free flow of information erected to protect IP, or prevent competitors from gaining an advantage, or something of the sort.

Sensitive information, or even not so sensitive information out of context, can be used by enemies or competitors to do harm.  

I think that if there is someone on your team that wants to do harm -- security measures are not going to do much good.  Loyal employees treated well don't broadcast sensitive information.  Open communication uninhibited by security measures build loyalty in a paradoxical answer to the security naysayers.

Some Quick Rules of Thumb

* Spend a tenth of your time documenting

* If you think a team mate can re-use your work - document

* If you think a team mate is counting on your delivering something - document

* If you want to get feedback on your thinking - document

* If you want to get buy in to your thinking - document

* When in doubt go open (open = trust and loyalty)

* Don't wait until everything is settled to openly communicate

* If you find yourself keeping secrets -- ask why (and then communicate).