Study Hacks Blog Posts from August, 2020 - Study Hacks - Cal Newport - Part 2

On the Subtle Network Science of Optimal Office Communication

August 5th, 2020 · 24 comments

Consider the following workplace scenario. The manager of an R&D lab needs her engineers to solve a complex problem. There are many possible approaches and it’s unclear which will end up best. What is the best way to structure their communication?

For at least the last twenty years, the accepted answer to this question within knowledge work has been to introduce the maximum amount of communication with the minimum possible friction. Email makes it simple for engineers to swap ideas and results. Instant messenger tools like Slack reduce friction even further and increase transparency. Progress!

The logic driving this consensus is straightforward: more information is strictly better than less; a veritable axiom of the burgeoning Information Age that has been widely accepted ever since Bill Gates touted his early-adoption of email as a strategy to broaden the incoming stream of ideas and insights on which his algorithmic brain could churn.

But is this answer always right?

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