Info Overload – a view from the political summit

An interesting article in the BBC News magazine recently afforded us a rare glimpse into the problem as seen from the perspective of two politicians – no less than Barack Obama and British opposition leader David Cameron.

Personally I always thought that senior leaders of nations have licked Information Overload. After all, one can’t imagine that the President of the United States slaves for hours each day over a flooded email inbox… he must have a dozen aides summarizing the news and distilling for their chief a beautifully short list of what he really needs to know…

Turns out I was wrong; at least Mr. Obama, who is quite close to that level, pointed out to Cameron that “the most important thing you need to do is to have big chunks of time during the day when all you’re doing is thinking”; while Mr. Cameron highlighted the difficulty in doing so when he said “these guys just chalk your diary up”… their support system may facilitate scheduling and information processing but “Thinking Time” is still a rare commodity for a world leader. One shudders to connect this observation with the ample research about reduced decision quality and increased error rates that an overloaded work style causes.

I’d love to know what these two are doing about it… and we’d certainly welcome them as IORG members! 🙂

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