Managing information

Introduction Summary 1. Problems 2. Solutions 3. Identification(1) 3. Identification(2) 4. Practice(1) 4. Practice(2) 5. Example 6. Action 7. More examples Download book Exit

2. What are the solutions to data and information excess?

2.1. The need for information

  1. If we’re going to get the best out of the data available and the information derived from it, we must consider why we need it.
  2. Well, we need information (Is it raining outside?), otherwise we are operating by guesswork and increasing our risks (I’ll take the risk and not take an umbrella).
  3. So we need information to make decisions (It’s raining, so I’ll take an umbrella)
  4. We need decisions to reduce our risks (I’ll take an umbrella to avoid getting wet).
  5. And we need to reduce risks to achieve our objectives (I don’t want to get wet).
  6. Therefore,

We maximise the chances of achieving our objectives by reducing the risks which threaten them.

We reduce these risks by making decisions which manage them to an acceptable level.

We make the best decisions by obtaining the best information available.

  1. By implication, the better the quality of information, the better the chance of achieving our objectives. (Or the worse the quality of information, less likely we are to achieve our objectives!).
  2. So we need to think about how to get good quality information.

2.2.   Good information

  1. What are the principles of good information?

Relevance: it must help us reach a decision. Knowing it’s raining in Outer Mongolia won’t help us make a decision about taking an umbrella – unless we’re in Outer Mongolia.

Completeness: there’s no point in only having part of the information. Knowing it’s raining is useful but it would be more useful if you knew how hard and if the forecast was for continuing rain.

Simplicity: the information should convey a clear message. It’s raining, not there’s a certain amount of aqueous precipitation in the atmosphere.

Accuracy: this can vary from totally inaccurate: it’s not raining (when it is) to excessive accuracy it’s raining with drops of average diameter 0.12342mm.

Timeliness: The information needs to be with us when we need to make the decision. No point in getting soaked before you realise that it’s pouring.

  1. We’ll consider completeness and simplicity to be part of relevance.
  2. And of course the information must be used! However good the information, if it is not used it’s worthless.
  3. We’ll now look the process involved in identifying the information we need, by considering: the objectives we must achieve; the risks which might hinder this achievement; the decisions necessary bring he risks down to an acceptable level and the information required to support these decisions.

Click here to see how we identify the information we need


Information is required to make these decisions

Decisions have to be made to manage these risks to an acceptable level

Have risks hindering their achievement