I’m not sure about you, but I can be terribly impulsive sometimes.
Often in my personal life I jump to conclusions, rush to judgement or make assumptions before understanding the full picture (or so I’ve been told).
Whilst in day to day small things, it might not seem like such a big deal (and probably isn’t), the situation changes quite quickly as decisions become more important and have greater consequences.
Decisions we make in business today often fall into this area. With the high rates of volatility and change and without the luxury of time, we can make assumptions, jump to conclusions and rush to judgement easier than ever.
Looking at the decision making process holistically, it can be roughly broken down into 3 stages.
- Understanding: Gathering information and analysis
- Judgement: Critical thinking / decision making
- Execution: Carrying out actions as a result
So rushing to judgement means skipping quickly through the understanding stage and not gathering all the information that goes with it. By skipping through understanding, we miss out on information to feed our judgement and use assumptions instead. The greatest economic and business disasters stem from decisions made on bad assumptions.
In any thorough understanding phase we weigh up some of the following about any given situation or thing:
- What do I feel (fear, desire)?
- What do I think?
- What do I believe?
- What do I know?
Whilst the psychology of human decision making is a fascinating area, overall Information Management is about addressing the last question.
So what do I know? One definition for knowledge is attributed to the Greek philosopher Plato who defined it as “justified true belief”. So for us to know something, we must believe it to be true, but also have evidence to show that it is. So everything we know must have evidence, otherwise it remains a belief. In effect, evidence is any information that determines the truth of a belief / assertion.
Gathering evidence can be a complicated process. It involves collecting, integrating, auditing, cleaning, validating, storing, formatting, accessing, analysing, and understanding large amounts of information from different sources which may or may not appear to have anything in common.
Once the information is put through this process, it is able to be investigated. This can include analysis of measures trending over time, contexts, and relationships between seemingly separate pieces of information at any historic point in time. It can also be used to form the basis of predicting what could happen next and what if scenario’s. For this information to truly be effective it needs cover all levels of detail, from specific transactions to the department or companywide summaries. With the rate of change occurring so fast yesterday’s information may not be enough to make a good decision today so all of these things need to be continuously updated. This becomes a never ending cycle. On top of all of this the final challenge is how are all these things done and presented in such a way that the decision makers can understand quickly.
Gathering evidence is a complex process and with decisions having to be made all the time, this also needs to be continuous. It is exactly the challenges Information Management is designed to address. Through methodologies, processes, behaviours and solutions, information from many sources can be utilised to build evidence quickly and present it simply.
So Information Management is a core part of making better quality decisions that are based off evidence rather than assumptions. With the amount of information worldwide doubling every 2 years, business decision makers are operating in a continuously changing and complex environment. The need to respond with agility to this environment has now become a basic requirement to remaining competitive.
Now that we’ve covered the “why” of Information Management, we’ll look deeper into the “what”. With the next article on the fundamentals and concepts of Information Management based on how the human mind categorises content.