August 12, 2019

Parking Places (for Information, Silly)!

  —Managing information more naturally.

I run into this problem all the time: new fact, a piece of information, etc. seems relevant. No good place to store it. Bummer.

Sure I use a few tools to store things and they serve me well. The problem goes deeper than storage.

Another problem I run into all the time is that my software team and I learn something wonderful about how to improve our process. There isn’t a good place to store it. Bummer.

Sure the team and I have tools that permit us to create a shared resource. The problem goes deeper than capture.

The notion I apply to these situations is always that of a parking place. A parking place is a term I use to capture the notion that there should be a natural place to store a piece of information. The new information should fit somewhere. If I can find the fit I am comfortable that I’ve parked the information somewhere where it can be found again and provide value. The notion of natural and comfort with a parking place is also called point of use.

The inabilty to place something into my information management frameworks is signals that we might not be able to properly manage it. That’s worrisome.

An example: the team and I recently discovered an anti-pattern in our code base. Someone researched a pattern to remove it. We can introduce the new pattern to correct the problem. Awareness might be enough to eliminate new instances of the anti-pattern. But it might not be.

It’s now a problem of managing lessons learned–to avoid this problem in the future.

This pattern needs to be captured so that it will be top of mind when it could help us the most. It might have a good parking place in our

  • on boarding documents,
  • code reviews and
  • design reviews.

Cool. We are well position to introduce this pattern into processes we use daily. It’s likely we won’t repeat the mistakes that led to the anti-pattern, even if we all “forget”. (But still follow our processes.)

Here’s another example: I have a passing interest in information management. Tools and techniques for ensuring you have access to the information you need on the things you care about. I’ve read two articles: Wrong. The Answer is Definitely “Maybe”. and Building Your Own Memex.

The first is an exploration in a challenge on growing a business; the second discusses a tool used for information management. I don’t have anywhere to park the information from the first article. I have a list I can park information from the second.

In the first case, Getting Things Done provides a clue on what to do with this new information: it’s not actionable, it is worthwhile keeping. That makes it reference material. I need a new parking place. The second is also reference material. I’ve got a list I can add it too.

Someday those references may get a new parking place.

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