Organize your information like you would organize your handbags?

I got a major chuckle reading an article this morning about a woman who has designed an organizational framework (think information architecture) for her collection of 130 handbags.  The categories: the tote, the travel bag, the trendy bag, the evening clutch and what she calls the treasure bag.  Since one of the things I often have to teach new SharePoint users is the concept of metadata and breaking the folder paradigm, I am thinking that the handbag system might be a useful analogy.

Among the reasons that the handbag organizational system became critical is that Tina Craig, the subject of the article, found that she couldn’t find the handbag she was looking for among her large collection and that she found that she had duplicates of many types of handbags that she forgot she already owned.  This often happens in organizations – we reinvent the wheel because we didn’t know that we actually already owned the content (or handbag) we needed.  It’s often really hard to get folks to resonate with an organizational concept that extends beyond traditional document folders so I’m going to try the handbag analogy.  For example, what if a handbag is both an evening clutch and a trendy bag?  If we use folders (or plastic bins), we can only put the bag in one place.  However, with metadata, we can classify a bag as both a trendy bag and an evening clutch so when we want a trendy, evening clutch to match our trendy cocktail dress, we can instantly see that we’ve got it covered.  Moreover, if we often want to find a red bag to go with our red dress but we’ve chosen bag type as our only organizational framework, we’re still stuck rooting through a big collection to find the one bag that meets our needs.  This clearly indicates a need for a second useful organizational category: color.

As soon as I finish organizing my handbags, I plan to start using this analogy with my consulting clients.

(Read the entire handbag story http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119449239390186184.html?mod=djemPJ.)

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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