This article originally appeared on AMEinfo.
An epidemic is plaguing the corporate world and people have already coined a word to describe it: infobesity. Companies have overindulged in information. Some are finding it more difficult than ever to decide and deliver.
Like conventional obesity, infobesity has many sources. The never-ending stream of emails and voicemails. The PowerPoint presentations that dominate so many meetings. The endless reports from finance, marketing, cross-functional teams and external researchers.
Useful information creates opportunity and makes for better decisions. But the torrent that flows through most organisations today acts like so much bad cholesterol, clogging their arteries and slowing their reactions.
Why does infobesity compromise performance? It’s mostly because we human beings can process only so much data. An uncontrollable flood of it overwhelms us, and we feel stressed. Our systems shut down, and our capacity to absorb additional information actually decreases.
To cope with the flood, our brains develop tricks and habits. We rely more on information that is closer to home than on information from a distant source. We remember data presented in one format and forget data presented in another. We even squirrel away bits of information for our own private use. (Maybe that’s why local offices know things that the corporate centre doesn’t, and vice versa.) All such reactions hamper our ability to make decisions based on the best available evidence and performance suffers accordingly.
Paul Rogers is the managing director of Bain & Company Middle East and Turkey. Paul has 30 years of experience with Bain and is a senior member of the company’s Organization, Consumer Products and Retail practices.