I have been doing some research into the origin of the animal drive to cache (generally healthy) or hoard (generally not healthy) things, especially important things like food or information. I am specifically interested in the evolutionary roots of this behavior, and also what it looks like when it goes wrong. Reality television fans are of course intimately familiar with hoarding thanks to shows like TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive and A&E’s Hoarders (with A&E presumably elevating the “E” in its name above the “A” with this show). Currently, “hoarding” as a psychiatric condition is officially a subset of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, but thanks to a coming revision of the standard psychiatric diagnostic manual, it is getting an entry all its own in 2013 (is reality TV now actually creating reality?).
My working hypothesis is that organizational information hoarding behavior is almost indistinguishable from individual object hoarding behavior. After all, organizations are merely collections and reflections of individuals.
Is this true? Well, lets take a look at the newly proposed “working diagnostic criteria for compulsive hoarding” and do a kind of search and replace exercise to see if the criteria also illuminate organizational disfunction around information retention and management.
Working Diagnostic Criteria For Compulsive Hoarding (of Information)
|#||Diagnostic Criteria for Compulsive Hoarding Proposed for DSM-V||Diagnostic Criteria for Corporate Information Hoarding Proposed by Me|
|A||Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with personal possessions, even those of apparently useless or limited value, due to strong urges to save items, distress, and/or indecision associated with discarding.||Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with information, even information of apparently useless or limited value, due to strong urges to cover one’s ass, paper the file to catch your manager in a lie, and give e-discovery review attorneys something to do.|
|B||The symptoms result in the accumulation of a large number of possessions that fill up and clutter the active living areas of the home, workplace, or other personal surroundings (e.g., office, vehicle, yard) and prevent normal use of the space. If all living areas are uncluttered, it is only because of others’ efforts (e.g., family members, authorities) to keep these areas free of possessions.||The symptoms result in the accumulation of a large volume of information that fill up and clutter active information systems. If information systems are uncluttered, it is only because of others’ efforts (e.g., family members, sleep-deprived paralegals, “accidental” overwriting incidents) to keep these areas free of information.|
|C||The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (including maintaining a safe environment for self and others).||The symptoms cause economically significant distress or impairment of business functions.|
|D||The hoarding symptoms are not due to a general medical condition (e.g., brain injury, cerebrovascular disease).||The information hoarding symptoms are not simply due to generally half-assed company management techniques (e.g., incompetent CEO, brother-in-law of CEO running IT).|
|E||The hoarding symptoms are not restricted to the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., hoarding due to obsessions in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), lack of motivation in Major Depressive Disorder, delusions in Schizophrenia or another Psychotic Disorder, cognitive deficits in Dementia, restricted interests in Autistic Disorder, food storing in Prader–Willi Syndrome).||The hoarding symptoms are not restricted to the symptoms of another organizational disorder (e.g., Big Data Kool-Aid Drinking, Overly Broad Legal Holditis, Keep Everything Forever Spectrum Disorder).|