30 November, 2005

Cow-orker: "It can't possibly work, and I'm already doing it anyway."

I was sent a link to some information about the Noguchi filing system, which I thought looked like something we could use at work as an alternative to chaos and exploding files. I pass it on to the Cow-orker and her workmate, the token human.

"I'm already doing exactly this with my manila folder collection on my desk," she responds. To which she could have added "Except they're in no discernible order and I don't tell anyone that they're there."

(Her manila folder collection is a fearsome sight - two magazine holders stuffed full of folders containing randomly assorted collections of paperwork, some of it dating back two or three years. Only she knows what she has in there, or why).

Then she realises that the Noguchi system means that there needs to be some kind of consistency, discipline and cooperation with others underpinning the whole thing (which, obviously, is what makes it a system rather than simply a random collection of manila folders kept on someone's desk because it's more convenient than putting them away) and clearly that can't be tolerated.

"It won't work for us," she says, and begins grasping at straws as to why the existing "system" can't be tampered with. None of the arguments are particularly convincing, and most don't seem to be based on anything that Noguchi actually proposes.

And then she concludes with what she considers the knockout blow: "If we all got hit by a bus and someone new had to take over, how would they find anything?"

"The same way they'd find anything in your manila folders, I expect. Except, you know, this system would be documented so that people would know how it worked."

She flounders for a moment, and then decides to pre-emptively blame the Token Human for the inevitable failure of the Noguchi system if it was ever introduced here. "He'd never be able to stick to it," says Miss Keep-stuffing-the-files-until-they-explode who, ten years on, is still struggling with the concept that filing stuff electronically doesn't begin and end with dumping randomly-named files into a single directory.

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