tangled wire in a system concept

How information gridlock creates atrophy

by ​Deb Scifres


Areas within the business where information gridlock can strike

Read time: 4 minutes

If information isn’t getting where it needs to be, read on.

Imagine this situation.

You’re stuck at an airport during a freak winter snowstorm. You’re scheduled to fly out in two hours, but there’s nobody at the gate to answer questions. Frustrated, you call their customer service line, provide your information, and are told that they’ll get back with you as soon as they know anything more about your flight. You hang up, and idly check the airline’s app, but there’s nothing new there either. Finally, someone from the airline gets to the gate, but they don’t know when your flight will take off, the answers to your questions, or really, anything at all about you and what you’ve been asking others within the company.

This incredibly frustrating experience is brought to you by information bottlenecks—gridlock within an organization that doesn’t allow information to get where it needs to go. And as you can see, it can significantly impact major portions of your business.

While information gridlock may start out as a small problem, it can spread like a virus across your entire organization.

Areas of gridlock

That was just one example of information gridlock and how it can affect your organization. And though not all problems will directly affect customers, they all have a negative impact. This gridlock can have a cascading effect throughout your entire organization, as bad decisions pile up and time is wasted. Departments become siloed. Productivity is lost and efficiency declines. The result is atrophy, as your organization slowly paralyzes itself from within.

Break on through

Unfortunately, information gridlock can affect a number of additional areas within your organization. These include:

  • Workflow processes: Unoptimized processes are a major contributor to information gridlock. Broken processes don’t just cause delays. They can be a serious risk and liability hazard to your organization. Three quarters of workers have already experienced serious compliance issues as a result of these broken processes. But despite the danger, just 41 percent of organizations have automated most of all of their workflows.

  • Trapped information: Paper is one of the least efficient means of transmitting information, but if yours is like most organizations, you still have a significant amount of information—especially historical records and other such data—still stored on paper, where it’s extremely difficult to access and use. This is a bottleneck that can only be addressed via digitization, a strong records management program, and a commitment to an organizational search strategy that meets the needs of your workers.

  • Institutional knowledge: The workforce is changing, and as older, more established workers retire, they’re taking a lot of critical business information with them. If they aren’t passing this knowledge along, you’re losing valuable insights into nearly every aspect of your organization.

Keep in mind information flow within an organization can encompass everything from your customers’ private data to the correct method of using a particular billing software. It can be big or small, and without a plan to break through the gridlock that traps your information and prevents you from achieving your business goals, you may find your organization stuck in neutral—or worse. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can better optimize processes, access information in any format and build a culture of knowledge-sharing, so that key business data never walks out the front door, never to return.

Break through information gridlock

To learn more about how your organization can address issues now for future success, check out this guidebook on how to effectively manage content for streamlined information flow.

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