Reducing Information Pollution

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Value conversations and work free from information overload

April 15, 2018 | Posted By dedenzani

The second week of #IORGLiveMonth just finished a great journey for me so far in sharing my experiences and reflections with all of you and at the same time building a video library or hints and tips that will be accessible by everyone for the time to come.

I don’t expect to bring absolute truths or solutions on the table but my observations are true and my proposed tips and behavioral changes are tested, first of all, on myself and direct experience. I’d really like to hear your point of view and opinions about it.

I think conversations are really important, they are for me particularly because my #noemail journey landed exactly there, in a field where to get things done I had to reach out directly to my peers, engaging them in conversations rather than hiding myself under a TO a SUBJECT and a BODY.

I often collect all requests received from my peers, met them face to face, addressed one by one. I usually get so much more information and eventually several tasks are solved straight away, many more get accomplished with much more balance, promptness and ease from both parties.

 

To have the right conversations, to get deeply in the collaboration spirit, we need first to notice all distractions around us starting from our devices and laptops (discussed on Day 8), eternal sources of notifications and #thingstodoexactlywhenweareintheneedtofocusonsomethingelse .

We probably noticed that even if we put aside notifications and devices it’s our approach towards multitasking that can again come in the way (discussed on Day 11) so that we get that sudden desire to check something without reflecting on prioritization.

 

Ok now let’s assume we are great single-taskers and we don’t bring devices around, there is still the risk to cause information overload in the way we communicate.

 

If we don’t base our conversations on trust (Day 14), for example we will need additional information to be sent to us after we already discussed something and if we tend to procrastinate (delaying that quick conversation to a further time) we will be in the need of further communication, mostly to repeat the same drafter points, a promotion of additional information overload (Day 13).

New technologies, mostly free, can help us: video communication is nowadays the perfect channel for a conversation when we cannot all be in the same location, it can be recorded, reviewed, shared and it’s very easy to do from any device (Day9). Of course technology shouldn’t come in our way and we should be ready for videos chat ensuring we can provide good quality sound and image having pre-installed and well known apps.

Video conversations can be also shared on a blogpost together with a good simple and clear text, this will enhance our capability to share information, will reduce overload avoiding repeated questions on the same topic. A blog will also increase our potential reach to unknown branches of our network (Day 10).

Last but not least, the quality of our communication should be taken under serious consideration, the simpler and the clearer we craft our messages, the less information overload we will cause through any type of channel. This will require us to pay attention at the creation of the message and further care about the receivers of our communication (Day 12).

Conversations have never been so supported and powerful like nowadays in human history, considering all technology have, accessibility to knowledge and freedom to discuss with anyone in our organizational chart.

It’s such a pity that in many occasions we just focus on our desired outcomes and even our collective failures are almost never seen as caused by an improper use of our communication skills and information overload is then considered as a necessary part of they way do do things today.

Our scapegoats? Unproductivity, lack of time, stress, incompetence: in reality it’s just lack of attention on the way we communicate and information overload can be avoided.

Communication is everything in our nowadays working environment, let’s make it right. A way for us to do it is to learn to control our minds and emotional reactions, this opens the doors into mindfulness practice, that’s going to be topic of the coming week.

Thanks a lot for watching #IORGLiveMonth http://bit.ly/iorglivemonth

E-mail is not anymore a necessary channel

April 7, 2018 | Posted By dedenzani

In the first week of IORGLiveMonth that you can watch here http://bit.ly/iorglivemonth from Day 1 to 7 you can see as common denominator one basic concept: e-mail is not anymore a necessary tool to do our job.

On the contrary, learning to collaborate using other channels will definitively help us becoming more productive, spending less time and drastically reducing information overload.

Going noemail (or “less email”) is a very simple straightforward process:

 

ONE

It starts by paying attention to the incoming messages on our inbox.

In the moment when we have to reply to them, STOP and think about what would be the best channel to send it.

Is it really e-mail the best? Could I pick up the phone? Do I need to collaborate real time? Would a video chat be more creative and provide an immediate solution?

Think before sending is the new motto of the end information overload citizen.

 

TWO

For those few use cases where you still need to send it via e-mail, adopt some behavior that are reducing information overload.

Avoid sending attachments but use file hosting tools to add and share your files and folders.

Avoid adding people on CC, majority will thank you for that.

Avoid the Reply to All button, just provide your replies to whom you address the message.

Consider that anytime that there is more than one person in the need to know, it’s might be the case for a different kind of collaboration that definitively is not going to be suitable for e-mail communication.

 

THREE

Take some time to plan your communication in advance. Test, try and learn new tools, engage your peers in using them, create those containers where the future communications and collaborations will take place.

Do it for yourself: learning, personal branding, better collaboration and less time spent in getting mad with technology.

Do it for your peers: the whole collaborative process will go much more smoothly than what’s happening now.

 

FOUR

Enjoy the process and share your findings.

 

Thanks a lot for watching week 1, thanks for giving it a try, thank for the reduction of information overload that already started since point ONE of this post 😁

Week 2 is about to start and it’a all about conversation.

LeleIORGMonth – Each day a new Live broadcast to fight IO

April 2, 2018 | Posted By dedenzani

It’s been a while I’m not using e-mails, 5 years since July 2013 and even before I started gladly advocating different forms of collaboration to avoid overused channels.

That’s where I got to meet IORG, Nathan Zeldes and all great professionals and researchers that with me share the same disappointment around the way we naturally ended up communicating between each other.

I feel the main driver of it, is a lack of education from our institutions and corporates. Nobody told us that mobile phone notifications were addictive and that our internal chemical reactions (see dopamine) is playing with us in a way that keeps us there, waiting for the next stimulus to come.

We end up looking at our inbox in average more than 70 times a day, holding our mobile phones in our hands while we are having conversations and keep checking them while we are back at home with our families and kids. Then social networks came into the picture giving us many more options to keep being anxious and distracted.

How can we get out of that addictive loop, how can we avoid distractions during our days, what are the best hints, tips and methodologies?

Nobody knows for sure, there are many suggestions, many good habits and practices and each one of IORG members has their own favorite. You will be able to get them all in the coming months.

In April I’ll share my personal observations and ideas, wishing my experience to be helpful to many of you dear readers and watchers.

I chose to dedicate the month of April to live videos, that I’ll publish into the IORG Youtube channel http://bit.ly/iorglivemonth

Live, unedited monologues of myself going through different topics.

Live because it’s more transparent, it’s more personal and genuine. I’m not a researcher, I’m a communication professional that works in a big corporation so what you will see in #LeleIORGMonth are my thoughts and intuitions after several years of love for collaboration.

Each week of April 2018 will have its chapter in chronological order:

  1. e-mail (because unfortunately it’s still the most used channel around)
  2. conversation (because if we learn back the importance of it there will be much less overload)
  3. mindfulness (because I believe it brings the best practices to gain back the control of our information flow)
  4. open business (because it’s a better way to collaborate all together and it’s not easy to do it as it looks)

Looking forward to share and please make sure to tune here for the live broadcast http://bit.ly/LeleIORGLive

or here below you will be able day by day to see the playlist growing.

Enjoy and thank you!

To get in touch with me click here

Information Overload and Mindfulness

March 5, 2018 | Posted By Nathan Zeldes

When I started working on mitigating Information Overload at Intel, back in the mid-90s, it was all about email overload, and the solutions we worked on then were all about how to send less and better email, sort and process incoming email faster and more sensibly, and – once we figured out the underlying cultural causes – improving norms and expectations within the organization. Nobody even considered Mindfulness then…

But recent years have seen a rapid change in the public’s awareness of Mindfulness in general, and this is fast moving into the info overload space. Just Google “Information overload and mindfulness”! People are realizing that mindfulness and meditation techniques are useful components in the battle on the hijacking of our focus and attention by the incessant incursion of messages and social media. It’s a good trend, and I recommend you pay attention to it.

Three friends of IORG are particularly active in this matter:

  • IBM’s Lele Terenzani, a.k.a. “Dr. Connections”, runs a very enjoyable Webcast series called “The present show”, dedicated to communications and mindfulness.
  • Lawrence Ampofo has a Podcast series on his Digital Mindfulness site, where he interviews key thinkers in this area,
  • David Levy, a longtime crusader against the distractions decimating our ability to think, has now published “Mindful tech”, a book where he proposes actions and exercises to develop a more mindful attitude to our technology.

Enjoy!

Artificial Intelligence, Information Overload, and the Library of the Future

February 22, 2018 | Posted By Nathan Zeldes

Recently I was invited to give a keynote lecture at the XV International Conference on University Libraries in Mexico City last month. The conference was dedicated to the changing role of university libraries, and their place in the United Nations’ “Agenda 2030” program. My lecture, titled “Libraries and Knowledge in the Age of Information Overload”, took a close look at the impact of today’s pervasive state of Information Overload on the academic library, and vice versa.

Preparing this lecture was a fascinating experience for me, as was the knowledge exchange at the conference. Libraries, after all, had served as key vehicles for the dissemination of knowledge since ancient times, yet today far more knowledge than we could ever process is available online. Who needs libraries, then?

The conclusions I reached are that libraries will definitely retain their relevance, but their role is already changing. Rather than maximize access to information, they need to help their users filter knowledge, weeding out the fake and the irrelevant and helping them apply the latest techniques – including those enabled by computer science – to home in on what they really need. And amusingly, one reason students and faculty flock to their university library is to seek refuge from information overload – even when the information is accessible from the outside, the library provides a haven from distractions that is very precious.

You can read my report about all this in an article I published, accessible here.

Doing email in meetings: an ancient cautionary tale

February 15, 2018 | Posted By Nathan Zeldes

We can learn a lot from history… even in the field of Information Overload and Meeting Culture.

Consider this true story, quoted as is from Plutarch, about a spicy event in the senate of ancient Rome:

It is said also that when the great conspiracy of Catiline, which came near overthrowing the city, had come to the ears of the senate, Cato and Caesar, who were of different opinions about the matter, were standing side by side, and just then a little note was handed to Caesar from outside, which he read quietly. But Cato cried out that Caesar was outrageously receiving letters of instruction from the enemy. At this, a great tumult arose, and Caesar gave the missive, just as it was, to Cato. Cato found, when he read it, that it was a wanton bit of writing from his sister Servilia, and throwing it to Caesar with the words “Take it, thou sot,” turned again to the business under discussion. So notorious was Servilia’s passion for Caesar.

Let’s recast this in modern terms: two senior leaders are engaged in an important discussion in parliament, the legendary Julius Caesar and his enemy Cato (the younger). Caesar is distracted by an incoming message, and tries to process it while engaging in the meeting – tries, in fact , to Multitask. This not only interferes with his concentration; it leads to a disruption of the entire meeting – and to a rather comical if embarrassing outcome when the message turns out to be a love letter from his mistress. That the mistress was Cato’s sister Servilia (the mother of Brutus) just makes it more hilarious.

The lesson is far from funny, though: in meetings across the planet today attendees sit with a glassy stare fixed on their notebook or smartphone screens, and the impact on the meeting’s effectiveness is extremely harmful. Take note!

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Value conversations and work free from information overload
Apr. 15, 2018

The second week of #IORGLiveMonth just finished a great journey for me so far in sharing my experiences and reflections with all of you and at the same time building a video library or hints and tips that will be accessible by everyone for the time to come. I don’t expect to bring absolute truths […]

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