Week five was all about managing information. Again, this is something I’m pretty much used to doing, but it was nice to get a stronger theoretical understanding of my day-to-day duties.
To be honest, I didn’t expect to learn much this week, but I ended being surprised.
First of all, I learnt about the difference between data and information. A fundamental concept, and an obvious one when pointed out, but one I wasn’t aware of!
Learning all about information flows was interesting. I liked the diagram that gave a visual representation of information flows up, down, and laterally across the hierarchy of an organisation. I also found it useful to consider the types of information I might need to obtain from others and disseminate to others, and how my effectiveness in managing this information can be critical to the team.
The explanation of how different people can have different perspectives of information was particularly enlightening. The different between the technician’s view and the general manager’s view was astonishing!
I learnt about hard and soft information, and looked in detail at the 10 criteria we can use to determine the quality of information for decision-making:
- Its relevance
- Its clarity
- Its accuracy
- Its completeness
- Its trustworthiness
- Its conciseness
- Its timeliness
- Communication to the right person
- Communicated via the right channel
- Less costly than the benefit it provides
The chapter then moved into management information systems. I was intrigued to note that this isn’t necessary a description of computer-based solutions! Components of a management information system can be manual involving paper, or even purely verbal.
One of the most important ideas was that the collection and processing of management information should to some degree happen as a by-product of everyday work.
I then looked at how to represent a management information system in a diagram, including feedback loops. People factors were also considered, in particular how the effectiveness of a management information system depends on whether the staff producing the information are aware of and understand its relevance and importance to the organisation.
A 7-step framework for improving information management was then presented, and as part of the weekly activities, I looked at how I could improve an information management problem I was experiencing. This became my TMA 01.
Finally, the chapter ended with a look at information overload, and some techniques for dealing with information addiction.