Less Information

Infobesity

Infobesity – the condition of continually consuming large amounts of information, especially when it has a negative effect on a person’s well-being and their ability to concentrate.

Infobesity is the enemy of good decisions.

Too Much Information

We live in an age of unprecedented access to information. To buy the right phone, find the best tacos, or hire the perfect employee, just hop online and do as much research as you want before choosing.

We also have the never-ending stream of emails and voicemails to deal with.  PowerPoint presentations dominate our meetings, and we receive endless reports from finance, marketing, and external researchers that pile up on our desks.

Supposedly, all this useful information creates the opportunity to make better decisions.

Or does it?

The information age certainly has the potential to improve our understanding. But new evidence suggests that access to information may work better in theory than in practice.

People think they will rationally assess all available information before forming conclusions.  But in reality, most people actually form their conclusions right away despite having so much information at their disposal.

Decisions are made long before we thoroughly review all the available research.

Consequences of Too Much Information

In addition to contributing to our inability to make decisions, infobesity has been shown to cause fatigue, reduce productivity, creates a lack of confidence, and contributes to memory loss.  The financial loss due to information overload was estimated at $1 trillion in 2009; it is likely multiples of that amount now.

Solution to Infobesity

  • We need less information than we think. Recent studies have demonstrated that decisions are made long before all the available information is reviewed.
  • Make a decision solution. Step back from the decision-making process and consider exactly what information is needed.  Recognize that many times the execution of the decision is far more important than the actual decision itself.  Decide on what source of information will be used to base each decision and stick to it.
  • Standardize the decision-making process. Use standard forms and metrics so that needed information can quickly be extracted and put to use.  Time will be saved by not collecting unnecessary information.
  • Time when information is needed. Not every critical detail is needed in the first phase of the decision-making process.  Why spend time collecting data that may never be needed?
  • Be careful what sources are used for information. Purchased data is often from companies in the business to sell more data, hence it may not always be exactly what is needed.

The Bible

The Book of Proverbs in the Bible should be a go-to resource for anyone seeking to fight infobesity.

Proverbs 18:15 says.

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
for the ears of the wise seek it out.

Proverbs 24:5 says.

The wise prevail through great power,
and those who have knowledge muster their strength.

Also, Ecclesiastes 12:12 says.

Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

King Solomon, nearly three thousand years ago, recognized that too much information hinders your ability to make decisions.

Be selective about what information is needed, collect that information in a standard form, and be prepared to make a decision based on that information alone.  Follow King Solomons’s advice and fight infobesity.