in Discipline of IA

Getting There: Enterprise IA

Lou Rosenfeld posted his recent presentation to the AIGA Experience Design conference, titled Getting Established: ED for the Enterprise (Powerpoint).

He writes, setting our expectations of results, ‘Timing: 3-6 years, not months…Remember: You’re turning an aircraft carrier with your foot as the rudder.

Yes Yes Yes. This is half my job, sticking my feet in the water and kicking like crazy. Lou creates the most cogent summary of this situation I’ve yet seen. I think this is one of the two or three big challenges of our field: coordinating and syncronizing the publishing efforts of multi-layered organizations (I say organizations and not companies as this condition exists inside universities, governments, and large non-profits as well).

IA’s can sometimes grab other fields as our own, enveloping information design, interface design, interaction design, etc. But IA for the enterprise is a central IA issue, an issue no one else is addressing (notice the subtitle of the Polar Bear book: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites. It is the scale that makes IA what it is). The knowledge management folks are doing noble work, but with a mandate even more idealistic than that of IA, and for this reason I think they are less likely to achieve practical results. Besides, they tend to focus on collecting and filtering tacit knowledge, whereas our focus is on managing and publishing the core knowledge of the organization.

And yet there are other forces that must be brought to bear on this problem, organizational psychology, management, and IT are three that come immediately to mind. If we are to have a larger influence on projects outside our own, I have to think IAs must join with other disciplines to develop solutions as well as to gain credibility.

What is the forum for this work? A new kind of book, edited with vision, pulling together a flowing collection of chapters from disparate points of view, informed by sound research, grounded in practical results, full of successful and unsuccessful case studies? Something else?

I hear the new Polar Bear book includes some of these ideas. But if we are to spend 3-6 years on each system, if we are to find technical and management models that will work across organizations, if we are to influence those we don’t influence today, we may need more. This presentation starts down that path, don’t miss it.

And, there’s an actual chinese menu.

Later…this imaginary book probably couldn’t be published on the usual publishing model, there’s not enough enterprise people to justify it. Instead of a publishing house, a professional organization might sponsor something like this, and even if the price was high it could still be within the price range of this audience.