Chapter 2. Activities in Organizing Systems

Robert J. Glushko
Erik Wilde
Jess Hemerly
Isabelle Sperano
Robyn Perry

2.1. Introduction

There are four activities that occur naturally in every organizing system; how explicit they are depend on the scope, the breadth or variety of the resources, and the scale, the number of resources that the organizing system encompasses. Consider the routine, everyday task of managing your wardrobe. When you organize your clothes closet, you are unlikely to write a formal selection policy that specifies what things go in the closet. You do not consciously itemize and prioritize the ways you expect to search for and locate things, and you are unlikely to consider explicitly the organizing principles that you use to arrange them. From time to time you will put things back in order and discard things you no longer wear, but you probably will not schedule this as a regular activity on your calendar.

Your clothes closet is an organizing system; defined in Chapter 1 as “an intentionally arranged collection of resources and the interactions they support.” As such, it exposes these four highly interrelated and iterative activities:


Determining the scope of the organizing system by specifying which resources should be included. (Should I hang up my sweaters in the clothes closet or put them in a dresser drawer in the bedroom?)


Specifying the principles or rules that will be followed to arrange the resources. (Should I sort my shirts by color, sleeve ...

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