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Sunday, 27 December 2009

Information, Knowledge and Intelligence

Of the many speakers we have had to my Vistage group, probably more than 300 since the group was formed, several stand out as memorable. One of these was Herbert (Herb) Meyer who had been a journalist and author and later, special counsel to Bill Casey who was Director of the CIA during the Reagan administration.

For perhaps obvious reasons, Herb was a genuine specialist in the assessment of information and ran a superb session on the Information Overload.

He made the point that the availability of information is growing exponentially but our ability to absorb all this growth is extremely limited to say the least. Search engines, led of course by Google, have made it very simple to find what we are looking for and this allows us to be selective in our searching and consequent absorption of the information.

The clue is, however, when we have the information, what are we going to do with it? Google is so all-encompassing that even a simple search will bring up literally millions of web pages and then what?

Research shows that our attention span is so short that unless what we are looking for appears on the first page of the Google search and even more, in the top three, then we ignore the rest.

What is needed, then, is the ability to transform the raw information into knowledge which possibly requires more “drilling down” research.

And then what?

Herb made the point that information and knowledge is no more than interesting and the real value lies in our ability to transform the knowledge into intelligence.

In other words, what is the ADDED VALUE that we can derive from the research?
What OUTCOME are we seeking from the research?
Hence, what ACTION can we take as a result of the research?

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