Excess Information

Information is vital to any business, but just how much can you process and make useful? In the past few years a couple of phrases have been tossed about concerning the information people are receiving. One is TMI, which stands for Too Much Information. The other is Information Overload. Interestingly, the issue of excess information exists at the same time that people also struggle to get the information they need. See the previous posting Dangers of Keeping Employees Uninformed for how this relates to employees’ needs.


Typically we hear the phrase TMI used mostly in a personal conversation when someone is providing too many details of their personal life. If can be as simple as gory details of someone’s surgery to minutia of their family life. It can make the listener(s) uncomfortable simply because they don’t know what to do with it or how to respond. To a large extent this occurs because so many people either lack the ability or willingness to filter what comes out of their mouth or simply because someone thinks their personal life is or should be interesting to everyone.

Information Overload

Information overload occurs in both personal and business situations when the quantity, along with the unknown quality of information being provided is of such magnitude that it becomes difficult to determine what’s important and what’s not.

Both TMI and Information Overload are forms of excess information and create a similar problem – what to do with the information. In essence you may find yourself floating in a sea of information.

Sea of Information

What to Do

If someone is furnishing too much personal information, it is important to encourage them to stay on point. It is certainly okay to let people know that this kind of information can make people uncomfortable. That doesn’t require being rude, but simply helping them get back to the things that matter as far as the issue(s) that relate to the company. Incidentally, people do like to talk about themselves, so it is important to allow a certain amount of talk about what is going on personally. But, when this begins to make people uncomfortable it’s time to redirect.

If the volume of information is excessive and simply more than can reasonable be processed and used, here are some suggestions:

  1. Ask those furnishing information to distill it down to the critical elements, thus causing each person providing the information to consider what really matters.
  2. Similar to a method of organizing, try to sort the information into three groups:
  • The first group is information that is clearly relevant
  • Group two is information that may be useful but you don’t know for sure
  • Group three is information that is irrelevant to the issue(s) at hand and is simply discarded.

Note that things in group three, if it turns out that they are important, will most likely resurface at some point.

After you have gone through this process of sorting information one time, then take group two and do the same thing with it. This can be repeated until what is left is a group one that is a manageable amount of information.

What Do You Do?

In today’s world of seemingly unlimited information what do to manage excess information so that you can make decisions?

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.


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