Ted Hickman

The Best Way to Retain New Information

The cardinal rule of statistics and learning is to count the correct answers, not the wrong ones. Many time-constrained information workers suffer from information overload, given how much information is thrown at them every day. The average response time for some businesses has been estimated at 1-3 seconds, a time that is less than 2% of total information flow.

When organizations find themselves with this kind of information overload, the best way to retain new information is to keep it short. Unfortunately, this is extremely difficult. Business people find it hard to filter out unnecessary information from unneeded information. Since most information workers need to respond instantly, they cannot afford to waste time.

An alternative to shortening the information flow is to set information “tabs” for each team member, telling them what to ignore and what to take in. Taking lessons from Lendio, we’ve gone to great lengths to keep tabs on which team members are ignoring and filling in unnecessary pieces of information. We’re able to categorize each team member in six ways: (1) have a performance badge (emails that need actioned); (2) have access to an instant dashboard that tracks all of the info needed to make a decision (this includes information from the “information tower” up top); (3) have access to the answer manual; (4) have access to a guide for “helpful” information (like a blog); (5) have an FAQ that summarizes the main business questions; (6) have access to team resources, like the employee-created knowledge directory.

For specialist fields we’ve found that the more interest trainees harbour for what they’re doing, the easier the learning process becomes, like how botox courses generally go down very well with medical professionals in that line of work.

Our team members all wear a personal badge that has a picture of a statue (she’s supposed to represent the office “angel”); anyone who is abusing information resources is “hanging out” in the angel’s lap. Anyone who is looking for the best way to consume information from the company resource center (resource tower) has the angel’s tail sticking up. Whenever someone takes a second to read a piece of information, we set up an alert so that they’re not “hangin’ out” in the angel’s lap. We’ve also set up alerts for people in the guide (who make sure information is read before it’s sent), and to people who “set up” and “stop” documents.

Having a set of tabs makes it easy for everyone to focus on the information they need to take action. Since information workers use email to write emails, the tag “info tower” comes from the word “information”. The group that receives and compiles the resources at Lendio (like the client reference guides) are called the information tower. The resource-cluster team that reviews them is called the information cluster. Our team calls the hub of the information circle the information hub, and the team that shares information with all team members is called the information circle.

This type of information management is a great way to keep the information flowing. Teams that aren’t set up in the same way are constantly sending each other irrelevant information, which does nothing to promote efficiency.

Take another look