As supreme leader of the organization of tomorrow, you must deftly facilitate effective collaboration and communication using the latest technology. However, this technology is not without its dangers; you must also guard yourself, and loyal team members, from becoming info-zombies, with possible side effects of inbox-ification, info-comas, and the dreaded memo-mortis. Humor aside, information overload is a serious problem, with real impacts, that must be addressed in order to productively foster honest, open, and authentic communication within an organization.
A 1996 survey of managers by Reuters revealed that approximately two out of three experienced increased tension, lower job satisfaction, and relational problems due to information overload. Almost half of senior managers reported negative health impacts associated with information overload (Rogers, Puryear, & Root, 2013). Communication technologies have come a long ways since 1996 with share-point sites, blogs, wiki’s, Twitter, and Facebook. The potential for information overload has grown exponentially. According to a 2010 survey of knowledge workers conducted by Basex, 94% had, at some point, experienced information overload to the point of incapacitation (Rogers, Puryear, & Root, 2013). Information overload leads to multi-tasking as we deal with a mountain of information from multiple sources. Multi-tasking has been shown to hamper creativity, increase stress, and reduce productivity by as much as 30% (Dean & Webb, 2011).
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23, New International Version). I believe this is the key to successfully countering information overload; Organizational leaders must carefully guard against superfluous information and help co-workers stay focused as well. Dean and Webb sum this approach up with three steps: Focus on the task at hand by reducing distractions. Filter incoming information to that which is needed to make decisions. And forget, meaning take mental breaks by exercising, resting, or simply getting outside for a few minutes (Dean & Webb, 2011).
The info-war is real and growing. Organizational leaders must decide whether to diligently apply countermeasures, helping their organizations efficiently navigate the sea of emails, memos, meetings, blogs, and reports, or fall victim to info-mania.
Dean, D., & Webb, C. (2011, January). Recovering from information overload. McKinsey Quarterly. Retrieved from http://www.mckinsey.com/insights
Rogers, P., Puryear, R., & Root, J. (2013). Infobesity: The enemcy of good decisions [Issue brief]. Retrieved from Bain and Company Decision Insights website: http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/infobesity-the-enemy-of-good-decisions.aspx
Carl Krueger LED 512