In late 2017, my grandmother, Irene Kirby passed away.
Grief was quickly compounded by frustration as my family realized we didn’t know what important information she had, or where to find it.
It ended up taking us (mostly my mom and dad) over a year to get access to everything that we needed, such as important documents, policies, family records, photos, videos, and various types of digital information.
In early 2018, I felt compelled to make sure my family wouldn’t go through a similar experience again. I needed to understand what the actual problem actually was, and discover if there was an available solution that would help my family.
From my families perspective, the problem was that we weren’t prepared. We didn’t know what we needed, or where to find it. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an easy solution to this, given that the only person who had this information could no longer communicate it to us.
So then the question became – what was the underlying problem from my grandmothers perspective? And what could we have done differently?
In order to understand the following sequence of events, you need to know that I started a company 9 years prior to this when I was in college that was acquired in January of 2018. At this point in my life, I had some time and flexibility, but I needed to take some time to understand things a bit more.
I spent 10-20 hours per week for most of 2018 & 2019 getting as much information as I could from – let’s call them – the people who take ownership over their families information. I was able to access more than 10,000 qualified people through online polls, and directly have conversations with more than 200 people.
The more people I spoke with, the more clarity I gained that – there’s a big difference between what we think other people know, and what they actually know. Here are two questions we’ve now been asking people for over three years to illustrate:
Question 1: How confident are you that those who rely on you know what important information you have, and can find it on their own?
Results: 70% of people are confident or very confident those who rely on them know what they need and where to find it.
Question 2: How confident are you that you know what information those who you rely on have, and where to find it on your own?
The Results: 75% of people are not confident that they know what those who they rely on have, or where to find it.
We use the term ‘communication gaps’ to identify the various situations where someone owns a piece of information that another person in their life will need one day, but the person who needs it either doesn’t know it exists, or wouldn’t be able to find it on their own.
I started to frequently identify these ‘gaps’ when I would speak with people about issues they’ve gone through with their families.
As you would expect, there’s a wide range from family to family as to what gaps exist, what what the ramifications are, and when they will happen.
So how can a family eliminate these ‘gaps’ for their families, and make sure everyone has what they need, when they need it?
In order to accomplish this, we need to work through three things:
1. What information do people have?
2. How it is managed?
3. How it is communicated?
Let’s take a second to process: What information do you have that other people will need one day?
If we’re going to eliminate gaps in communication that can lead to hardships, we have to start by understanding what information we have that others are inevitably going to need.
The problem is that this is a deceptively overwhelming question to thoroughly think through. We have a lot of information.
Nearly every decade, the amount of information we share with our families doubles. Think about the new types of information we’re sharing that didn’t exist 20 years ago – things like: streaming accounts, email, social media, device access codes, and other digital information.
We have documents, contacts, accounts, passwords, legal, financial, personal, medical, employment, business, insurance, social media, streaming services, and many types of information to keep up with.
So how do we make identifying what you have less overwhelming and easier to define?
We follow a simple process, which is outlined below:
Overview: The first step is to break down the types of information we have into individual categories so we can track progress make sure nothing is missed
Overview: For each category, we will select the types of information we have, creating a checklist for each given category
Overview: Work through each category to produce a list of what we have that those who rely on us either need now, or will need in the future
This can be difficult because people often aren’t organized with their thoughts when they’re thinking about what information they have. We often don’t realize just how much information we have until we start thinking about it.
By following a process we can break up the ‘identification’ step and make it easy to work through, and come away with confidence in our answer.
Kinnect guides users through this part, each category and type of information has been simplified to make the process of identifying what we have as easy as possible, which can usually be done in only a few minutes.
Once we’ve identified what information we have, we need to understand what we’re doing with it.
Let’s now ask the question: How do you manage your information?
As we work to facilitate effective communication, after identifying what information we have, the next step is to make sure that our information will be accessible to the people who rely on us at the right time.
In order to communicate effectively, we need to make sure our information is appropriately managed.
If information is well managed, we will only need to identify the location where we’re managing it. If information isn’t well managed, we’ll need to make sure we find the right way to manage it so it’s accessible when it’s needed.
Everyone manages different types of information in different ways – step 2 is mainly meant to help us identify potential gaps that could occur as a result of the way we’re managing information.
Information is being properly managed if it is accessible, secure & private.
The most common ways people manage their information are various combinations of:
For purposes of effective communication, the main thing we’re going to focus on is accessibility.
How easy will each item from our lists created in step 1 be to access when they are needed by others in our lives, what about if they don’t have our help?
At minimum, when it comes to management, Kinnect can help us keep track of the various locations where we keep our information to make things easier for those who are relying on us in the future.
At maximum, we can use Kinnect to manage any of the various types of information we might need to make accessible for those who rely on us.
In our research, we have heard the stories of dozens of people who experienced hardships when trying to access photos and videos on devices that belonged to a parent or relative who wasn’t there anymore to give them the password.
The reason for this, is that we sometimes manage information in a manner where it’s not going to be accessible to anyone else in the future. Most people keep device access codes and password in their heads. This is ok for information that other people might not need one day, but if the only place something is being kept is in our mind, it’s not accessible for others, especially if something were to happen to us.
Now that we’ve identified what we have, and we’re keeping track of it in a secure, private & accessible manner, we’ll move on to the last step.
First, we have to define who needs our information.
The tricky part then becomes when and how that information is communicated.
We need to make sure that those who rely on us can access our information at the right time.
It’s not at all uncommon to find people who are already doing exceedingly well on steps 1 and 2.
Communicating effectively with someone else is significantly more challenging than managing information well. People have a lot of options to choose from when it comes to how they manage their information, but the largely unaddressed issue that lead to creating Kinnect is the way that we think about communicating is entirely too one-sided.
Communication is a two-way street. We should be thinking about communication not only from our perspective, but equally from the perspective of the person whom we’re communicating with.
How do we make sure when we communicate information to someone else, that the information we communicate will be readily accessible for those who rely on us when they need it in the future?
The most common ways people communicate their information are outlined below:
Ex: Telling someone where we keep our important documents
Pros: Works well for certain kinds of information
Cons: People forget a majority of what they’re told after 7 days
Ex: Sharing a file with someone in Google Drive
Pros: Works well when organized
Cons: 90+% of drives are disorganized & email isn’t reliable over time
Ex: My attorney will facilitate my information
Pros: Works well for certain kinds of information
Cons: Intermediaries are overly relied upon & only work for limited types of information
Ex: I’m not sure how to communicate, so I don’t
Pros: Avoid seemingly difficult conversations & thoughts
Cons: Things will be unnecessarily difficult for others in the future
The problem with the methods we commonly use to communicate our information with others is that they don’t make our information reliably accessible in the future.
Proper communication should result in the recipient knowing:
This would require a tremendous amount of time, effort & upkeep with any available communication methods. And essentially, this is why we decided to create Kinnect.
At Kinnect, we treat the person who is sharing information with the same level of importance as the recipient. We don’t just hope for the best, we make sure the information we share is easily accessible by the most important people in our lives when it is needed.
We get to share on our own terms, and have peace of mind knowing there’s not going to be any predictable gaps down the road.
We’re giving free premium access to early users for the rest of 2021.
We’ll even give you a free 1-on-1 walk through if you have questions, or would like us to guide you through the process.
As an early user, you can invite others, and bring order to chaos – creating peace of mind for yourself, and others who rely on you.