The Problem With Old Files and Content

Published on
11 Jan 2022
The Problem

The dustbin of history just won’t die! What’s the problem with old files and content? They slow people down. They cause distractions. And they mislead an organization’s staff. Almost every company we encounter has a dustbin with irrelevant/unused content and files. Most companies that we’ve studied say the same thing, “We want our content system to look like this”, as they point to a new Dropbox or OneDrive link. Of course, that new repository looks appealing because it’s new and uncluttered –but that doesn’t mean it’s inherently better. If leaders want to prevent their new communications tool from becoming a dustbin, they must address the cultural problems:

  • It’s instinct to believe that more content is better, but it’s wrong. Less is better.
  • Research shows that humans tend to add complexity and detail to handle every new situation, rather than sticking to the big picture. This presents itself in the form of a template for every situation, a policy for every possible HR violation, etc.
  • Finally, there is a culture that tends to avoid responsibility. Nobody oversees files that belonged to a former employee since it wasn’t their job to do so in the past. Without changes to the culture, team members are bound to repeat history.
The Problem

✓ Ensure that every document is owned by someone –and that person is accountable for why it exists and whether it is current

✓ Version all documents

✓ Create a minimalist culture, where if people can accomplish a big-picture goal without a million details, that is superior to having checked every box. It’s easier to hold people accountable that way without getting hammered on details.

✓ Ensure that final versions of content have a different home than drafts