While reading “Culture Jam” by Kalle Lasn I stumbled upon an interesting statement – “There is more information in the Sunday New York Times than the average person living during the Renaissance would have absorbed in a lifetime.”
This information shocked me – think about it. We have access to more information on one day (especially an off weekend day) than a historical person did in their entire lifetime – and this is only from one source!
I realized that we all suffer from information overload – or as the author of Culture Jam refers to it – “the information glut” but I had not realized to what extreme. So how do we try to make sense of all this information?
This article will discuss an easy method for you and your business to deal with the information glut.
Tell Me No More!
Culture Jam further describes the student’s lament:
“I don’t need to know any more – I already know more than I can understand.”
This is undoubtedly the case with the average person and is compounded by orders of magnitude as one progresses upward through the ranks of an organization. It’s even more of a problem if you run a company – directing many people, each with their own field of expertise, with years and often times decades of knowledge to share – you soon become skilled at learning just enough – or risk becoming buried in the details.
Personally I have found myself in this position many a time – data, data everywhere! But how does one effectively manage information overload? How does a person determine what’s important and what’s not? I will next discuss a technique that I have found effective.
Designation and Delegation
Simply put I like to designate and delegate. There is just too much information out there for one person to effectively muddle through. Besides, if you’re like me, there are some subjects that I enjoy and others I do not, some information I like to read, listen to, or watch, and others I literally dread. The good news is – for each subject you dread there is someone out there who is wildly passionate about it.
Within your organization find out the likes and dislikes of the members in your team. For each subject, designate a person to own learning about that information and how it impacts your organization – this person is referred to as a subject matter expert (SME). For example, if you have an employee who loves computers and technology, they should be your person for learning and addressing that subject. Same thing for other types of information such as sales trends, marketing, etc.
As an added precaution I like to have an alternate for each primary SME. This may not always be possible, but if there are enough people available within your organization, it keeps things interesting. First, it gives the primary SME someone to bounce ideas off of as well as the added benefit of a secondary, and perhaps different, point of view. Second it provides a backup should the primary be unavailable and a split-second decision need to be made.
By designating and delegating the learning of certain subjects and how they impact your organization, it frees up your time to tackle more leadership related responsibilities and hot button issues within your business.