Neil Thompson’s Lesson for Living – Need to know not nice to know
Gathering appropriate information to get a helpful picture of the situation we are dealing with is a central part of the role of a wide range of professionals. If we do not have a reasonably clear picture of the circumstances we are engaging with we can miss significant issues, distort and oversimplify the situation and potentially make a bad situations worse. Not having enough information can therefore be problematic. However, what can also be problematic is if we have too much information. This is because: (i) we can waste a lot of time and effort in gathering more information than we need; (ii) we can confuse ourselves and others if we end up drowning in far more information than is necessary for our purposes; (iii) important information can get lost in the welter of more details than are helpful; and (iv) we may alienate people if they feel we are putting together a fuller dossier of information than the current situation requires. So, the key skill here is being able to keep very focused on our role and task so that we know what is relevant information and what is not.