07
Feb
11

Is your information flowing?

We live in an age where information literally flows at the speed of light. From e-mails and text messages, to Twitter tweets and live satellite feeds from anyplace in the world where news is happening. Yet, in business, even for those blessed with the latest technology, information flow can be excruciatingly inconsistent. And that means your company ship is springing leaks, taking on water, diverting precious resources and slowing down.

The problem with poor information flow is that you probably have no clue how inconsistent it really is – at least until you do some exploring. The most obvious indicators of information-flow leaks sound like, “I didn’t know,” “Why didn’t I know?”, “I thought this is what you wanted,” and, “Why didn’t I see that coming?” Even if you think information is flowing well throughout your company, there are leaks and you need to find them.

Here are some no-compromise strategies to ensure that your information-flow systems are working:

  • Good systems are no guarantee: Information flow is not only systems-driven, it’s behavior-driven and culture-driven. Add a healthy dose of discipline and accountability to the mix and your systems stand a chance of working. Even in the best conditions, if employees ignore the information that’s flowing toward them, systems can fail. Indifference and laziness are the major causes of information-flow inconsistencies and failures. Do you lead with the intent to create and maintain an accountable and disciplined company culture? If not, the leaks will be major. In fact, the water is already past your knees and rising. Engage.
  • Gotta do the sports analogy: In football, teams huddle before every play so every player knows his role and what’s going to happen the instant the ball is snapped. As a business coach, I see company players running with the ball in the wrong direction all the time. They not only don’t know the plays, they don’t know where the goal line is. Daily business huddles are a must-do. If you’re not doing daily huddles, your company has information-flow leaks. If you are doing daily huddles, how clearly are the plays (strategies) and goals being communicated?
  • Find your information-flow balance: When it comes to information and data, there is such a thing as too much information. I know I just got you fired up to open the floodgates, but overloading your team with a barrage of information can backfire. First, key information can be lost in the floodwaters. So even though you put the information out there, few team members can find it. Second, flooding your team with information can bog them down with information processing rather than engaging in the work that needs to be done. Translation: Everyone is working really hard and nothing is getting done.
  • Clarity is everything: When it comes to information flow, short and sweet is a beautiful thing – it’s the only thing. Think of your information-flow system as a pipeline. That pipeline can only handle so much volume. Trying to push too much volume through it can cause it to spring leaks and eventually burst. Leaks are the recurring problems that drive leaders crazy. Leaks can always be traced back to the leader. A burst occurs when leaders jam too much information through their pipeline. A burst always results in some form of a business crisis that requires all hands on deck to contain and fix it. Communicate concisely and with clarity. Why, what, how and when.

Every company needs to monitor their information-flow systems for leaks and inconsistencies. And every company’s information-flow systems need to be upgraded and evolve in sync with its growth and current reality. Now, go find your first information-flow leak. You won’t have to look very hard.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click above to comment.

Neil Ducoff, Founder & CEO of Strategies and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.

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