The myth of controlling information in business

One common feature of management over the past few centuries has been to control the flow of information amongst employees. The argument goes that giving too many people too much information is risky as it leads to mistakes, confusion, misinterpretation, lack of efficiency and so on.


This control happens both vertically with a select few determining what, when, how, with whom info is shared, and also horizontally with departments protecting their ‘patch’ because, you know, sharing information with the incompetent people in the other departments will only slow us down and trip us up.


And whilst all these arguments could be fairly compelling, they fundamentally have no place in the social and digital age. In fact, Millennials simply find this obsession with information control completely baffling. This is because they have a more information that they can digest, at their finger tips, available in milliseconds, on almost any topic imaginable, on a machine that sits in their pockets. They are experts at deciphering what is important and what isn’t, at speed.


And they are right. Any risks associated with traditional information control are easily overwhelmed by the benefits of free information flow. Maintaining control removes one of the 4 key factors of hyper-successful business cultures: clear.


Examples of where sharing has been proving to be exceptionally powerful is in:


– Open source software development


– The transformation of the US Joint Special Operations Command.


In both cases, allowing information to flow relatively unrestrained enabled greater levels of success, in greater volumes, and at greater speeds. I.E. productivity and performance. As a result, we are witnessing a profound shift in transparency and information flow emerging in the business world.


To keep up we should lead by asking ourselves how can we maximise how much information we share? As opposed to how much information should we withhold?


Clear organisations with information flow as a priority have been found to make consistently smarter decisions. If knowledge is power, shouldn’t empowerment of the most people for most of the time be our strategy?


In doing so we empower autonomy, ownership, personal accountability, collaboration, innovation, and creativity. All robust elements of workplace wellbeing.



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