When good information is scarce, all of the worst biases and bad influences destroy the value of information and its use in general. Excessive egos, nasty politics, hidden agenda, false inferences drawn from unsupportable assertions – there are many forces for destruction of data validity out there, and without current, accurate, and timely information flowing into the system, all of these destructive forces are activated.
All thinking is situated in the power environment in which it takes place. Those who have the power control the conversation. If an organization is to have a vibrant, robust, and uplifting capability, the negative forces that come from an “information poor” or “information starved” environment must be managed away.
Here is a very insightful comment about “negative information cascades” made by a man who studies crowds and decision making:
“… ‘negative information cascades’ are kept going by people valuing public information more highly than their private information…. In a cascade, peoples’ decisions are not made independently, but are profoundly influenced – in some cases even determined – by those around them, … The cascade becomes a sequence of uninformed choices [based on social influence and greed not fact], so that collectively [as the numbers of participants merely imitating others increases] the group ends up making a bad decision.” Surowiecki (2004). The Wisdom of Crowds, 55-61.
The value of a simple and fast voice-based sales reporting system cannot be overemphasized as a correcting force against these “negative information cascades.” Continuous, immediate, complete information from sales reps from their work in the field, on the ground, is critical for correct understanding, sound decision making, and effective action. Every rep, every meeting, all of the details called into the system immediately following the activity. Everyone has the information, everyone then feeds back and wonderful “virtuous cycles” blossom. The sales rep is the POINT of organizational contact with customers, the marketplace, competitors, industry peers, academic leaders, politicians, and many others, so their feedback is the life blood to any organization. An assumed part of their job is robust communication back to the organization.
We cannot believe that some organizations do not require their sales reps to report their meeting and travel experience information. We sometimes ask, “If your top sales person (revenue generator) does not report his work, would you fire him/her?” If the answer is no, then we have an organizational environment at great risk. What if the sales rep walks one day? What if a major account is in trouble and the ego of the rep is keeping him/her from saying anything about it to management or others who could help? What is the sales rep seeing as far as the competition goes, with innovation and creative new products into the marketplace? The questions of danger and risk go on and on. This is a major warning sign. When management values short term revenue more than long term organizational vitality, they are on the path to destruction. When the economy is good and revenues are easy and ample, sloppy management of the sales rep asset is hidden; however, when the economy turns down and the guts of the organization are exposed, heaven help the organization whose revenues are built on one sales rep who will not share information and communicate! Information Starved!