blog We knew that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was a technophile, but I suspect many of us didn’t quite appreciate how focused on technology the Member for Wentworth truly is. The Australian reports today (we recommend you click here for the full article) that Turnbull has requested that the whole of the Federal Cabinet use the Slack instant messaging app. The newspaper reports:
“The Prime Minister made the suggestion in his first week after deposing Tony Abbott, at a cabinet meeting on September 15 when the previous ministry was still in place. Two ministers present told The Australian Mr Turnbull argued that cabinet could benefit from a different communication system and advocated Slack.”
So is this a good idea? It’s hard to say. On the one hand, I personally think it’s fantastic that the Prime Minister of Australia is advocating modern communications tools like Slack. Slack is an absolutely fantastic tool for teams, and I know many organisations which are addicted to using it to communicate internally. It truly is a next-generation platform for communication.
However, at the same time, I am personally familiar with the inner workings of political parties. And I have to say that there is much about Slack that would not work well in a Cabinet-style organisational system. For starters, Slack provides a complete audit trail of conversations, which most politicians and even many political staffers would not want in terms of their highly confidential discussions. It’s hosted offshore, not in Australia, and it’s been hacked before.
Then, too, Cabinet Ministers are essentially chief executive-level figures. They suffer a huge degree of information overload, and I’m really not sure that Slack would help such high-level figures communicate better or manage that information overload. Slack tends to work best as a tool for teams — but the Cabinet is not really a team per se. It’s a group of powerful people coming together to make decisions, then returning back to their high-level responsibilities. Slack tends to work better for workers below the CEO level, in my opinion — not the executives right at the top.
When it comes to Ministers and CEOs, they tend to prefer to communicate with each other in person in short, intense verbal bursts. That tends to be the way that trust works between these high-level figures. I think most would find a system such as Slack not quite suitable for their needs. Perhaps this situation might change as the new generation of younger MPs comes up through the ranks, but I’m not personally sure that it would.
However, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this: Do you think Slack would be an appropriate tool for the Federal Cabinet? Why or why not?
Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting