Friday, March 14, 2008

Drowning in information

Moving into management made me aware of how many things I did not yet understand. Getting people to do what you want them to do without using some form of force is a challenge, and "because I said so" only seems to work with my children (and even then it's hit or miss). One of the venues I've used for information on what to do is seminars.

I go to a seminar that is covering a topic that's of interest and applicable to some problem I am having. The presenter has their slide deck and content down cold, and they go through the process. At the time I think "Wow - this is GREAT information. I am going to use that the next time I need to address this." I leave the course at the end of the day, go back to work the next day and slam into the wall that I'd left behind the day before the seminar.

I go back to my notes from the class and try to recall exactly what was said, and can't quite conjure it up. So I go to the web and search around for similar information and indeed it is all out there, but before the seminar I did not know what to look for. Now I have the information from the seminar, and now from the web also. A lot of the information on the web is structured to make me want to pay for some product or service, so I'm skeptical of some of it.

I need something unbiased, I think. How about a book?

Off I go to Amazon. I search for the subject I am interested in and find a plethora of books, half of which have very high ratings. I cull through the list and find the one that seems most suited to me and order it up. As soon as the order is gone I go back into the storm of daily items.

About a week later I get the book, open it up and am flooded with memories from the seminar, the web search and the remarks on Amazon about the other books I didn't get. I am no closer to having something actionable than I was earlier. And then another crisis pops up, I put the book on the shelf with every intention of reading it cover to cover and making notes, and it sits there for months.

Every time I see the book I feel guilty for not following through.

Sometimes I wonder if can just use common sense? Can't I just take a stab at what seems to be reasonable and then note the result? If the result is good, do it that way again. If it is a failure, try to determine why it failed and do it differently next time.

I think I fall into the trap of wanting total information before I do something, in the belief that it will cause a better decision. There is so much information, though, that it backfires and I don't know where to start.

Perhaps I need to keep in mind the old adage "Good decision making comes from experience - experience comes from making bad decisions".

In the meantime, what do I do with all these books?

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