“The goal is to transform data into information, and information into insight.”
Carly Fiorina

How Much Data Do You Need?

And what are you going to do with it?

What Can We Ignore?

You probably get a number of emails each day, and if you are anything like me most of them are unimportant and unwanted. But you don't want to miss an important message so you have to look at them and decide which ones you can delete. You may be able to hear traffic noise, but you don't notice it unless you think about it. There might be music playing in the background, but most of the time you don't really notice. You don't notice the sound of the air conditioning system or notice subtle breezes unless you happen to be too warm or too cold, then they become relevant. Your brain is constantly determining what you can ignore because if you had to consciously attend to every bit of information you would go crazy. Your life is largely a process of deciding what you can ignore.

The Value of Facts

It is essential to make decisions based on the facts. But it is the decision that is important, the facts are tools to get there. No matter how much information you have, individual facts are worthless by themselves. Solutions are created when you correlate these facts and combine them, putting them together so they build on each other.

If solutions are created by comparing and combining facts, how much information can we handle? If you have two things you can only combine them in two ways. If you have A and B, you can group them as AB or BA. If you have 3 things, you can combine them in six ways. If you have 4 things, you have 24 possible combinations. The number of combinations grows quickly. If you have 6 items, you have 720 combinations. If you have 10 items, you can have over 3 ½ million combinations.

Research has shown that the short term memory typically handles about 7 items which begins to explain why we are so comfortable with groups of three. Hook, line and sinker; lock, stock and barrel.

Applying Information

The illustration is oversimplified, but the point is that decisions are made by correlating ideas or facts, and you can only correlate a very small number and actually make use of them. Unless we are facing something completely new to us, we typically have more information than we can use. Why then is our first reaction to look for more data, or hire someone to come in and give us more information? The key is usually in sorting the information we already have, finding the most important facts and combining them to create the solution that makes sense.

We Can Help

At Giffordson Solutions we have developed and refined processes that allow you to very quickly document the important information and use it to create solutions right for your unique situation.