Infobesity Epidemic
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Monday, 16 August 2010 16:37

Information Is Like Food.. There Is A Right Amount

Information is like food
When it was scarce, we hungered for it.  But now, in the Information Age, there’s a glut – and without a proper digestive system, we are in danger of eating ourselves sick.  If you’ve noticed that being “connected is starting to feel like being infected, you aren’t alone.  Here are the results of some recent studies that show what’s been happening to Executives all over the country:
  • Task focus has been reduced to 3 minutes before an interruption occurs – 11 before a major interruption.
  • Interruptions (email, phone, conversations, text messaging) are costing $358 billion on a national basis.
  • Managers will spend 30% of their time managing email – 30% of those emails are useless.
  • In a large corporation, the cost of managing useless email can approach $1 billion per year
In the realm of presentation, my colleagues and I have witnessed the following – maybe you have too:
  • Teams of Brand Managers each spending 25-30 hours per month, creating slides.
  • Corporate cultures accepting 30 plus slides as an average communication.
  • Decision cycles in those same “data driven” companies slowing down while the market speeds up.
  • Sales people, overwhelmed with organizing presentation materials, spending less time in front of customers.
  • Calendars with 50 plus phone meetings per month – the quality of these meetings? You tell me.
A Conscious Information Policy is Now a Necessity!
Did hunter-gatherers have table manners or dieticians?  Those things only came into being after food was abundant enough to cause trouble with our neighbors and our bodies.  The need for food created community – we were better at finding meat when we worked together.  With community evolved the “common knowledge” and rituals that always surround life’s most important events. 
But common knowledge and rituals are subject to the irrationality of humans.  Did you know that for 800 years people thought using a fork was rude?  How many food myths have you seen come and go? 
In this time of abundance of information, its time to discipline what we prepare and serve to others, and how much we consume.  Our precious time and well being are at stake. 
Nutritious or Pernicious?
So what is the healthy amount of information?  There are lots of studies now, showing the effects of too much data on the human mind.  They all agree there is a limit to the quantity we can take, some of them even try to make a formula to define the problem; Input amount/time, etc.
But here’s what I’m after:  I’ve heard the word “elegant” defined as “just enough.”  Not too much for the occasion, not too little.  In a business communication, what is an elegant information meal?
The answer... and the related journey to living it... is what this adventure is all about.
~ BB ~