A few years ago I read somewhere (source long since forgotten) of a definition of a game being a series of barriers that players decide voluntarily to overcome. At the time it struck me that that pretty much described much of the business of working, too. Although the volunteer nature of the pursuit may be slightly less clear.

I was reminded of this today when sitting in a multi-organisational meeting on behalf of one of my clients. The group were a combination of general employees working in a team than spanned two organisations, and people from the technology groups of both. The woes of not being able to work with one another soon got me thinking that almost all of the problems that were being described we as a result of barriers that one or other of the organisations had decided to impose upon themselves.

These days it’s really quite cheap and easy to get people working with one another from a technology perspective. Whilst actually fostering effective team-working is far harder (because, well, people…), the tools to collaborate globally are two-a-penny (or often less). I can Slack or Trello or Docs or Hangout or Skype. The tools aren’t the issue.

Unless you’re sitting on a corporate network behind a corporate firewall on a corporate machine. Then, quite frankly, you are still generally fucked.

Email is the only common currency in inter-organisational work. A 46-year-old medium. Everything else that is useful will probably be blocked at the firewall.

Now I understand the challenge. Corporates need audit trails. Corporates need to manage records. Corporates are inherently untrustworthy, psychopathic constructs and they work on the principle that all people are too. We cannot be trusted. Meanwhile the business is increasingly migrating to WhatsApp because people just need to get shit done.

This is a drum I’ve been banging for over a decade now. Yet organisations are still obsessed with trying to replicate “behind the firewall” thinking in the world of Cloud. At some point we’ll all realise that we could just drop a few of these self-imposed barriers and get on with trying to overcome the more important ones.

One thought on “Self-imposed barriers

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