We put a lot of effort into making our organizations organized, but maybe we have lost something in the process. Maybe in our attempts to improve our signal to noise ratio we have lost the signal.

A lot of the time and effort of management goes into tidying up and keeping things orderly. Reducing inefficient waste and unnecessary effort has been the focus of generations of managers. Arguably more of them are comfortable with this role than with more growth orientated leadership roles. Containment rather than promotion. Well it is going to be these managers’ worst nightmare when I now suggest that we want more rubbish. As if there wasn’t enough rubbish on the Internet I am saying we want more of it and, worse still – we need more of it at work. If staff don’t talk enough rubbish, I am saying we should encourage them to talk more of it. Why? Signal to noise.

In our attempts to tidy up our information spaces and our business conversations, our efforts to reduce the noise have also meant that we have hidden the signals. The weak signals that can be so crucial in avoiding risks and making the most of opportunities. If we build a tidy new town rather than a messy old village we risk having a very clean, sanitized environment where nothing interesting happens. We all know businesses with “knowledge repositories” full of tidy but uninteresting documents rather than interesting lively spaces where information grows and flourishes. Also if we preempt what we deem ...

Get Organizations Don't Tweet, People Do: A Manager's Guide to the Social Web now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.