The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

Information Is Not Necessarily Knowledge

On July 6th, 2010, posted in: Uncategorized by

True enough, we live in an information world.  There is information overload found in every aspect of our day.  My gosh…there are electric toothbrushes with multiple settings for the most daring of personalities.  And kitchen utensils stop just short of being able to fly.  I mean, really, how many settings do we need on a blender?  I say we need one: blend.  All the other settings are nothing more than information exhaustion.  The average person can’t tell the difference between blend and liquefy.  C’mon folks, all you want is for the three things you stick in the blender to get mixed up to create one of something.  That’s it.  After that, you’re just messing around with the buttons.

Information flow is at “Mach VI with your hair on fire,” but are we learning anything?  Let’s draw a distinction – information is not necessarily knowledge.  We have become a world where we have 10 times more TV channels than we have Baskin Robbins flavors, yet do we learn anything?  If I want to know what Ashton Kutcher did this morning, I’ll just check out his latest “tweet.”  Ashton shares information, but are we the smarter for it?  I can’t imagine.  There is no way that I’m better off for knowing what’s going on in the 10-11 time slot of a guy best known for his camera commercials.

Much of today’s information appears to be nothing more than a means by which to keep track of everybody else’s drama.  The feverish pace with which we ascertain data insures that we get a constant flow of drivel from the real world – meaning inane gossip ‘round the clock.  We find our “second-by-second fix” in the form of some cryptic text on the display screen of our phone – the new appendage found attached at the end of the hand.  We’ve got to have it.  We plug into waste such as: (1) important information about the boyfriend du jour; (2) a snippet of a neighbor’s most recent bout with a landlord; (3) an acquaintance’s doctor visit that should really remain personal; (4) and the imperative news of what your BFF had for lunch.

I was recently asked to speak to members of a business fraternity at an accomplished university.  Tomorrow’s leaders filed in – professionally attired, and anxious for a couple of juicy tidbits that would help them land a job in what is aptly described as a jobless recovery.  I talked about the “real corporate world” that quickly turned into an episode of “scared straight.”

My allotted time was a whopping 25 minutes, including questions.  Even if I had been reading a cookbook aloud, you would think these MBA students would observe professional decorum and be able to pay attention to an invited guest for a little less time than it takes to air a sitcom.  You would be wrong.  Nope!  There were three students in the back row insistent upon texting.  Without directly pointing them out, I was able to share with the room that “at least three or four people in the room will lose their jobs because of their phone.”  Young folks’ addiction to their PDA will get them fired.  Really, it’s that simple.

When you’re on somebody’s payroll, the information you ascertain better be applied to helping the company succeed.  Everything else is useless and provides no knowledge necessary to execute on the company plan.  If you don’t like “the man” flexing their collective muscle, then invent your own little Microsoft.  Otherwise, information better translate to knowledge that is beneficial to your boss, your company and your career.  Put the phone and the drama away or you will surely have drama of your own.

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