Many of us are convinced that we would solve our problems and reach our goals if we had the right information. The truth is, a lack of information is usually not the problem. I’ll show you 5 reasons why more information won’t solve it and what to do instead.
Information Rich and Solution Blind
I’ve noticed a pattern in many leaders I’ve coached. Whether they are trying to solve a problem or reach a goal, most are looking for more information.
They say to me, “Help me figure out how to do this,” and mean by that, “either tell me how or point me to the resource that will tell me how.” They believe their problem is a lack of information. But it rarely is.
As I talk with leaders I hear their search for more information. I also hear they already have the information they need. They’ve researched it. They’ve consulted with others. Yet, they don’t move forward.
They are information rich, but solution blind. Something else is getting in the way. That “something” is the key to behavior change, not more information.
5 Reasons Why More Information Won’t Solve It
Let me say here: information is important, it’s just not as important as we think it is. There are other dynamics at play that make more information irrelevant. If you address these dynamics, you may find that you already have all the information you need.
- Emotions eat information for breakfast. In my leadership coaching with clients, I find they often know what to do, but their emotions block them from moving forward in a rational way. Fear. Distraction. Caution. Approval. Confusion. Emotions scramble the information. We believe we act rationally according to the information we have, however, our behavior is driven by emotions more than we are willing to admit.
- Too much information hurts decision-making. Information provides more choices. With more choices we will make better decisions. So the logic goes. Not always! Tension builds in us as we gather information for a decision. We can reach a point where we will make a decision – any decision – just to release the tension. This is one aspect of decision fatigue. Other times, we continue information gathering as a way to avoid making a decision, which is called decision avoidance. There’s a point when more information produces worse, rather than better decisions.
- Organizational xenophobia. We fear what’s out there. The reason we aren’t succeeding is because of the economy, competition, the EU, the Liberals, the unfair system. So we study and predict and react. Stephen Covey wrote, “As long as you think the problem is out there, that very thought is the problem.” The need for change may initiate from out there but the solution is often in here. Reframing your mindset will take you from a victim with not enough information, to an empowered person who can bring change.
- The myth of the expert. Since we think a lack of information is the problem, we look to experts to tell us what we don’t know. We distrust what we do know. After all, if what we knew could solve the problem we would have solved it already. So we put our confidence in experts because they give us information we don’t have. The answer is often not with an expert, but with our own thinking.
- Change is not an announcement. I’ve never seen anyone change their view of an important issue as a result of a Facebook debate. We think information will persuade, but it doesn’t. Here’s why: when we receive new information, we process it according to what we already believe. This is called confirmation bias. We discount that which doesn’t match our beliefs and gravitate toward information that confirms our beliefs.
Ask yourself these questions to self-diagnose where to look for a solution:
- What emotions am I experiencing? How are these emotions affecting my willingness to move forward?
- What additional specific information do I need to make a reasonably-informed decision?
- How could I reframe the problem and the answer from being out there to in here?
- As the expert on your organization, what do you think?
- How could you address your team’s emotions, information expectations, and focus of control?
By exploring your internal mindsets, you many find that you already have all the information you need to move forward.
Question: What do you need to do to unlock the information you already have? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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