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Ex-Googler Douglas Merrill Talks Organization

Douglas Merrill dropped by InformationWeek's San Francisco office on Thursday to talk about his new book, "Getting Organized in the Google Era."
Douglas Merrill dropped by InformationWeek's San Francisco office on Thursday to talk about his new book, "Getting Organized in the Google Era."Merrill, formerly Google's de facto CIO, is one of the most interesting people I've had the opportunity to talk with during my years as a journalist.

His background is in psychology and he uses his academic training to explain why our minds conspire to keep us from being organized.

Merrill is still a big believer in search. "Search is still the oxygen of the Internet era and I think it always will be," he said.

And he sees value in social interaction. He recounted a study that showed that high-performing military units had high levels of collaboration and diversity of perspective.

Forced diversity of perspective, he said, equals higher quality outcomes. That's something autocrats, dictators, and other fans of strict hierarchy may wish to consider.

He's also a believer in using less paper, which not only has organizational implications but also helps the environment.

(Sorry, but I'm keeping my Post-its.)

Merrill isn't entirely anti-paper, however. Paper, he concedes, can be better for planning things.

In his book, he suggests various strategies and tools to use to keep organized amid the flood of information in which we're drowning.

If only I could clear out my inbox, I might even find time to read it.

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