How we ‘really’ use management information…

When we are kids we have models of how we think things work. For example, stick people with arms coming from the middle of their bodies or the sky being a thick blue line across the top of a drawing.

As adults we still carry lots of models in our minds, including how we use management information.

How we think we use management information

The ‘management information’ model many use is based on worthy approaches like DMAIC and PDCA. If we wrote it down it might look something like this…

How we thing we use management information

How we really use management information

After years of watching how individuals and teams really use information, I’ve come to the conclusion it should look more like this….

How we really use management information

This may look a bit cynical, but once you understand how people really use management information it becomes easier to design systems and approaches that work. Hopefully we will have a bit less head scratching, trying to work out why our beautiful 10 page report never gets looked at or used.

Key points to remember are:

  • People focus on things that are interesting to them
  • In business the things that interest people are often pain avoidance or money (e.g. salary or bonus) related
  • Most people think they know the answer before they look at the data. Sometimes it takes several rounds of ‘bashing their heads against the data’ to be won round to a more balanced view of the world – to change their ‘model’

I doubt we will all ever function like ‘text-book managers’, but I did eventually twig that arms come from shoulders so there may be hope for me yet.


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