Becoming an information coach

Even in tough times, there are opportunities for information and knowledge professionals. Organisational decision-makers need help in navigating complex information landscapes.

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More information does not (necessarily) mean better decisions

Despite high levels of investment in 'information management', there is still a notable gap between the amount invested and the quality of decisions made. 

For example, the recession did not appear out of the blue, yet some organisations dependent on government spending went ahead on a growth-fuelled spending spree.  Demographic changes are not happening overnight but still many organisations (public and private) have been slow to grasp the significance of these changes to their future plans.  In simple terms, we have moved beyond the challenge of data manipulation.  We are now in an age of complexity and people are simply not very good at making sense of the vast amounts of information that hits them from every quarter. I believe that corporate success will only come to those organisations that embrace the benefits that information and knowledge professionals bring.

Your colleagues need an Information Coach!

The time is right for a new role to emerge - that of information coach.  The managerial skillset required for working in the age of complexity has now taken on the characteristics of athleticism - and pitifully few of us have ever been trained to manage information effectively.  A cursory look at the number of days lost to stress, burnout and a host of other dysfunctions arising from what I call ‘cognitive bottlenecking' only further advances my belief that the decision-making community needs a new role to help them navigate the information landscape.

Being an information coach means that you need to help a decision maker establish exactly what the key, 'ruin or success' dimensions are for their part of the organisation and then build the scaffolding that supports their core needs. 

Examples of a 'ruination factor' are a wage or services bill that exceeds funding or the drying up of public spending if that is what your pipeline needs to survive. The winning of a bid is a 'success'.  The non-achievement of a corporate goal because of poor information supply or use, is a BRILLIANT catalyst for you to start becoming an information coach.  Whether you are starting from scratch or whether you are leveraging a 'crisis' there are some straightforward tactics that will help.

Getting in front of decision makers

Firstly, identify the key decision makers - not necessarily the top tier managers.  You need an initial one hour meeting with them. Explain that you are keen to improve their experience of, and the utility that they gain from, the information community in your organisation.  This primes the pump and starts them focusing on the negative aspects of information provision (and, trust me, they will!) At the meeting, you need to ask the following questions - and you must ask all of the questions. 

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