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Clearview® Performance Systems brings you ... ® ... a Culture of Results & Engagement®

Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions)
to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites Issue #97
(October 20, 2020)

It's Time to Dump the Firehose and Embrace the Faucet

Stop what you're doing right now and listen ... listen closely ... hear that? That "whooshing sound" you (probably) didn't hear is the sound of all the new knowledge that's been identified since you started reading this.

In his book, Critical Path (1981), architect, systems theorist, futurist, and inventor, Buckminster Fuller introduced the "knowledge-doubling curve." This now-famous timeline depicted the pace of human advancement from the beginning of time. For much of human history that timeline remained relatively flat. But—with the introduction (and subsequent proliferation) of the printing press around 1500—the pace of growth in human knowledge started to accelerate with a doubling occurring after about 250 years; after another 150 years (~1900), human knowledge had doubled again; by the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years; in 2014, human knowledge was estimated to be doubling every 13 months. With the internet and other advances in human communication and data storage, IBM predicts that by 2020 human knowledge will double every 11 hours!

Hold on! It IS 2020! This explains my Infowhelm!

So, in an era when electronics manufacturers produce more transistors than all the world's farmers grow grains of rice, all of this knowledge and all of this information has made life much simpler, right?

The answer would be a resounding "yes" if all of this knowledge and all this information was relevant ... but it's not. In fact, the vast majority of knowledge available at our fingertips is irrelevant, inaccurate, and/or misleading. In essence, all of this additional knowledge just gives us many more puzzle pieces to work with but no clear direction as to where they fit.

This week I'm going to tackle how to discern the NUGGETS from all the NOISE; how you can shift your emphasis (as well as your team's) from a 'gathering more information' mindset to a 'harvesting the needed knowledge' mindset; from trying to drink from a firehose to, instead, controlling the flow with an Information Faucet—keeping knowledge on tap.

[Masthead images courtesy of Penny & Andy Van Leeuwen]

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Steps

This week (starting today), keep track of those situations when a decision can't be made because of a lack of (relevant) information or when conflicting information exists. Look for ways to incorporate the HVAs below to shed excess information and extract the wisdom you need:

  • Adopt Healthy 'Eating' Habits (Watch out for Knowledge Obesity): We are all very aware of the obesity epidemic caused by excessive food consumption—especially as it pertains to junk-food and fast-food. But have you ever considered a condition I refer to as 'intellectual obesity' caused by excessive information consumption? In a manner similar to eating junk-food and/or fast-food every day, consuming copious amounts of unhealthy (unfiltered) information can be harmful in that it blocks the neural pathways (in a similar way to blocked arteries). Some of the information coming at us can be extremely addicting because each factoid looks like (or promises to be) the silver bullet that will solve all of our problems. Ironically, this over-consumption of information has led to the exact opposite of what we hope for; instead of clarity, we're paralyzed and overwhelmed with the sheer volume of often-conflicting information. One way I use to combat this intellectual obesity is to stick to legitimate research sites (found under the "Google Scholar" search engine). Another method I use to discern the legitimacy of data is to stick to peer-reviewed journals and articles.
  • Turning Know-How into Do-Now!: Our LEARNlinks® worksheet is designed to make every opportunity for learning (e.g., formal training, meetings, post-project reviews, coaching/mentoring sessions, customer focus groups, etc.) intentional and purposeful. A few simple questions BEFORE the learning event, and a couple of follow-through questions AFTER the event, will guarantee that you extract significant learnings from every learning opportunity. This worksheet can be used for yourself as well as for every member of your team. A PDF form-fill version is available here.
  • Work with SMEs: With all the 'Noise' it's very difficult to determine who's advice to listen to and who to stay away from. Pay particular attention to those who have become the go-to source. Work with them to create processes and repositories for content organization, tracking and management. This will help ensure reliable information flow that is consistent across your organization. [Note: The skills to be a 'digital content specialist' are more specialized than you think.]
  • Know When to Let Go: We are all guilty of hoarding information that is no longer relevant or viable. In days of old, when everything was kept in paper files, space requirements was our savior—when we ran out of space we tossed out information that was no longer valuable. Today, with—literally—unlimited computer data storage, we don't have that same oversight protection. Consequently, it's important to establish a content expiration strategy. Work with your team on how and when content should be removed for revision or archiving. While technology is part of the problem (unlimited data storage), technology can be very helpful here in establishing archival and purging strategies.

I'd love to hear how these HVAs work for you!

Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA
RESULTant™ and Behavioral Engineer

Quote of the Week

"The goal is to turn data into information and information into insight."

— Carly Fiorina —