Googling the Organization

by: Stratford Group Ltd.

Savvy business people do research before committing themselves to any significant course of action.  Whether it’s the purchase of new equipment, working with a new partner or considering a new market sector, learning as much as possible before writing a cheque or signing a contract can avoid costly disappointment.

Decision-makers automatically turn to the obvious sources of information:

  • The internet*
  • Research reports
  • Analysts
  • Their network of contacts
  • Social media (Twitter, LinkedIn groups, etc.)

* Be careful to distinguish genuine opinion from planted reviews.  Also, pay attention to how much actual experience reviewers have had with the topic in question.  It’s not uncommon for people to give glowing reports based simply on their purchase decision (or intent to purchase) rather than actual long-term usage.

One commonly overlooked source of research on almost any topic is the employees in your organization.  Odds are they have diverse backgrounds.  Many have worked for other companies and in other industries including those you may be considering targeting for new opportunities.  They may have worked for competitors who have made similar decisions to what you’re considering.  They may know people who are experts in the field.  Someone might even have had to make the same decisions you’re facing.  You might be surprised at what you’ll discover.

The great strength of any organization is the depth of knowledge and experience within the employee base.  With today’s advanced internal communications tools (in-house social media like Yammer, instant messaging, collaborative workspaces like SharePoint or Google Docs, shared document systems like Dropbox or Box, or even simple email distribution lists) it’s easy to tap into the brainpower and expertise of your employees to support decision-making.  Think of it as “googling” the organization!

Your colleagues are more likely to provide unbiased feedback that has the added benefit of being more or less informed about your company’s situation.  It’s also easier to engage in more detailed discussions than most other sources of information.  This knowledge is there for the taking.  The trick, as in any research, is asking the right questions.  And remembering to ask in the first place!

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