The "Really Big" problem


I had the opportunity to attend a meeting wherein the presenter discussed all of the amazing ways that SharePoint 2010 was going to solve all the problems of the company I work for.

I work at a company that is made up of 1,000s of employees across most of the globe, and as I listed to how facet search and managed metadata where going to resolve communication and collaboration problems I begin asking myself what is the underlying problem that plagues the company I work at and how is SharePoint going to resolve this problem.

Thinking of how most problems boil down to communication issues I realized that while the company I work at (a middle of the road financial institution) is not the "biggest" company by any means it does the the "big" problem, that is, the company is made up of a lot of people.

When ever you have an organization, be it government, company or even a family, as the organization grows the issues it faces in keeping everyone in the group "on the same page" also grows.

This can actually be expressed mathematically (n2-n)/2. This equation, which I discovered from Joel Spolsky's article in Inc. Magazine (http://www.inc.com/magazine/20100201/a-little-less-conversation.html) shows how every time you add another person to a group it becomes harder to keep the entire group on the same page. The table below (also borrowed from the Inc. Magazine article) helps to illustrate this very well.

PeopleConnections
10
21
33
46
510
615
721
828
936
1045

As it shows once you get to around 5 people the issue of keeping everyone up to speed get's very complicated. You might be inclined to think that if only one person makes any decisions that this helps limit the issue; however, would you want to work at a place where out of 5 people only 1 person has any real input? I know I wouldn't part of the reason to work in a group is so you can benefit from other people's ideas.

So how does SharePoint 2010 plan on solving this issue? Well it doesn't SharePoint 2010 is a tool just like any other tool and will only be as useful as the craftsmen who use it.

Hopefully as the rollout of SharePoint 2010 continues the "really big" problem will be on more people's mind and a focus on it will grow and less emphasis will be placed on the tools used to resolve it.