Chandler is an attempt to re-invent the “personal information manager” (think: Outlook).  Dreaming in Code is a fascinating book about the Chandler journey.

The Chandler developers had to think long and hard about the nature of knowledge work.  On their website, on a page called Chandler Project Vision, they describe their Target Users:

They work closely with every member of their team, acting as a communication hub. They know how to ask the right questions to gather input and feedback. They identify problem areas, figure out when meetings need to happen, who needs to be there, what needs to be discussed, and then they facilitate the discussion to define concrete next actions and ultimately drive their team towards informed decisions. They take on the responsibility of defining realistic goals for their team and getting everyone pointed in the same direction to reach those goals.

On this description, Chandler’s target users are very closely related to the target users of bCisive, i.e. “business decision makers.”

Alongside the description of their target users, the page has a graphic:

This graphic of course is a direct play on the 19th century phrenological diagram:

Fowler phrenology bust

The Chandler graphic both pays homage to, and satirizes, those early attempts to relate mental function to cerebral locations.

As with the phrenological diagrams, the Chandler graphic’s assignment of functions to locations is almost completely fanciful.  However there is one thing that is worth saving in it, albeit in a metaphorical interpretation – the locating of Decide! in the center, almost like the hub around which all other higher mental functions revolve.  (Note also that it is the only activity which gets an exclamation mark!)

Something similar is true of decision in knowledge work – it is the pivotal task.  Every other type of task can be seen as leading up to a decision, or following on from the making of a decision.

This central place is reflected in the structure of organisations – generally speaking, the higher one is in an organisation, the more one’s job is about making important decisions.

[Cross-posted to BlogCisive]