Information is everywhere. To paraphrase Yoda, "it surrounds us, it binds us." It has become the only "tangible" product many of us work with. As information becomes the most valuable asset a company has, how do we manage it all?
In InfoSense, noted mathematician and popular science writer Keith Devlin shows us how to make sense of the constant flow of information that bombards us daily. What is crucial, Devlin says, is to understand the difference between data, information and knowledge.
Devlin's mathematical inclinations show with his equations that illustrate his points. Equations like "Information = Data + Meaning" and "Knowledge = Internalized information + ability to utilize the information." Essentially, information only turns into knowledge when we attach meaning to it. When we understand it. Distinguishing between the various types of info in the flow is all-important. Here are some key points addressed in the book:
* Why people, not computers, are the most effective way to transfer knowledge * How social and cultural factors influence work * The hidden rules of everyday communication * How to conduct a meeting to achieve what you want * How to avoid miscommunication
Devlin's low-tech way to higher productivity is straightforward, learn how to communicate better. He shows how to converse more efficiently, how to run more effective meetings, and how to avoid miscommunication (with some shocking airline accident examples) with clear unambiguous language.
Devlin uses Situation theory to illustrate how to increase productivity within a group. He says that the ideal group size is two or three. As you add more group members the likelihood of confusion increases.
It seems that the more participants in a meeting, the higher the likelihood that the group will spend most of the time discussing information already known. This is because people have a tendency to discuss what they already know, and not bring up new subjects in conversation. They lack adequate "common knowledge" and need to be consciously guided to be effective.
An example: here's how to avoid going over familiar ground in a meeting:
1. Get participants to submit in advance the points they wish to make. 2. Adapt a round-robin format where each person in turn is asked to contribute something new. 3. List each new item introduced on a flipchart or a whiteboard. 4. Constantly remind the participants that the aim is to examine new information or ideas. 5. Cast the task at hand in an open-ended fashion as one of examining all the options, rather than making ajudgement or arriving at a decision. 6. Ensure that everyone in the group has a clearly defined and clearly understood area of expertise. 7. Build up the team over time, so everyone becomes familiar with one another's areas of expertise and with their strengths and weaknesses.
Columbo was really creating context when, at the last minute, he turned around at the door and said "Oh, and one more thing I don't understand...." Experts are those who know the rules so well, they routinely break them. To become an expert at the art of communication, this is a good place to start. From WebReference.com.