Highlights from the world of corporate information.
Trust boosters: In business these days -- unlike in politics -- it's tough to get away with lies. Bombarded with stories about unscrupulous corporate executives and the employees they done wrong, workers begin to gaze warily at their own managers. And not being Enron isn't enough to make suspicious workers feel differently. "In the average company it's the little things that chip away at the trust bedrock," writes Shari Caudron in " Rebuilding Employee Trust" ( Workforce magazine, October 2002). "Little things like saying one thing and doing another. Forgetting promises. Generating confusion." Caudron connects the dots between employee trust and company performance and lays out a five-step strategy for human-resources departments that are eager to win workers' allegiance. But HR can't build trust unless leaders lay the foundation, and Caudron admonishes CEOs to tend to their cultures. "The article points out that much of what alienates employees is acts of omission rather than commission," says InfoPosse member Lisa Zwickey. "You have to be honest, of course. But that's just the beginning."
"Trust is the result of countless management decisions, made over a long period, that help employees feel secure about their own -- and their organization's -- future."
-- From "Rebuilding Employee Trust," Workforce magazine
The goods on goods and services: An economist is "someone who can't see something working in practice without asking whether it would work in theory," quipped Walter Heller, himself a practitioner of the dismal science. Bill Goffe might agree, but he still sees plenty of practical value in the subject. Goffe is editor of the exhaustive Resources for Economists on the Internet ( http://rfe.org), "a better source for numbers than the phone book," says Zwickey. The site, which is sponsored by the American Economic Association, includes links to regional conditions, federal budget information, global financial data, and every leading indicator known to humans -- in short, everything economists need to make their forecasts and CEOs can use to plan for their businesses. The site also points to a trove of economist jokes, of which there are a surprising number. So how many conservative economists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None, of course. If the government would just leave it alone, the lightbulb would screw itself in.
Reengineering reengineering: Companies need technology. They also need flexibility. Trouble is that computer systems have a kind of Medusa effect: they turn business processes into stone. The challenge then, write Howard Smith and Peter Fingar in " A New Path to Business Process Management" ( Optimize, October 2002), is to create systems and software built not to last but rather to adapt. Instead of reengineering processes in one fell swoop and then cementing the new models in code, companies should design processes that can be changed on the fly and software that's flexible enough to support those changes. In the "third wave of business-process management," the authors write, implementing a new process is as easy as querying a database. By following the authors' recommendations, mature companies can recapture the advantage of newcomers that have "the freedom to tailor process changes precisely to the current market conditions." Start-ups, meanwhile, can build from scratch systems that will keep them forever young. "While the article occasionally strays onto technical turf," says InfoPosse member Christine Klein, "it should be read by anyone who is designing or redesigning their organization."
The InfoPosse members are Genevieve Foskett, corporate librarian at Highsmith Inc.; Lisa Guedea CarreÑo, library director at Goshen College; Christine Klein, a corporate librarian with more than a dozen years of experience; and Lisa A. Zwickey, senior research specialist at J.J. Keller & Associates.