Thursday, August 6, 2009

Re: When Information is Not the Answer

a3-52_control_tower Andrew McAfee has another really nice post: 'When Information is NOT the Answer'. I advise you to go and read it, definitely if you are in IT. And for Knowledge and Information Management experts this post summarizes what you've been trying to tell IT all along.

McAfee basically shows that not all information can be processed using IT systems. Even though many think so and heavily depend on these systems for decision making. And he gives an example of a company, Zara, that acknowledges this and works with it in practice.

In a comment on his post I pointed to two books that underline the point McAfee's making. One is 'Blink' by Gladwell. (And I'll write a review of this book soon.) And the other is 'The Social Life of Information' by Seely Brown & Duguid. (The last book is one of my all time favorites.) If you haven't read them, please do so. It's very worth your time.

In 'The social life' they have that nice example of a control tower. The tower is fused with IT. But when they really tried to understand the PEOPLE that work in the tower and how they make decisions, they arrived at interesting results. These people used sticky notes, easily processed loads of data, make decisions based on intuition and experience - not on what's on the screen, etc.

And 'Blink' is loaded with examples of 'split-second decisions'. He shows that these decision can be good when they're (implicitly) based on processing lots of information in the past and becoming expert at something. Gladwell shows that some can make good decisions even though all the (objective/general) information in the world seems to be against them.

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