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Balancing Information & Action

May 18, 2015

I live in the world of data analysis and information delivery. It is really tempting, at times, to get lost in that information and just look at interesting facts all day long.

Of course, it isn’t just me. I see this with clients too. When I work with clients, I’m often showing running tests and using tools that deliver numbers they have never seen before about their business.

My clients are extremely excited and/or curious about the numbers and what those numbers means. Others are curious to learn the various techniques and tools I’ve used to find out those numbers.

As a result, it is easy for them to get lost in the data.

How To Avoid Data Drowning

Of course, if you get lost in the data, you don’t take action and, without any action, you don’t make progress toward your goals.

This is often called analysis paralysis or my preferred term is data drowning: you are so bogged down by data and information you simply can’t move forward.

That is a huge problem and one I want to help my clients avoid.

Information & Action Balance
To avoid data drowning requires mastering the art of balancing information and action. The best way I’ve found to describe this is to think of information and action as two opposing forces:

Balancing information and action
Balancing information and action

On the one extreme, you have companies who are mired in so much data and information they simply are unable to take any action. I must run more tests! I must send out one more survey! I must keep my product in beta another month! Without action, these companies are unable to see much, if any, growth or progress.

On the other extreme, you have companies that are moving so fast that they don’t slow down to review the facts. Without checking the facts, these companies rely on assumptions and gut feelings…I know my customers! Facts just get in the way! Without information, these companies spin out of control and don’t make much of any progress (at least not the progress they were intending to make).

Some companies exist one extreme and stay there. Most companies, though, seem to exist as a pendulum swinging from one extreme to the other, depending on the situation. If you swing from one extreme to the next, you are always facing one problem or the other…and both problems keep you from making the progress you wanted to make.

Success From Balance

Success comes when you stop swinging from one extreme to the next. Success comes when you stop living at either extreme.

Instead, success means striking a balance between information and action. You need both: you want is just enough information to inspire you to take the right types of actions that lead to the type of progress you are setting out to achieve.

By all means, keep gathering and analyzing data and information…but, only the right amount of information you need to know you are taking the right actions.

On the flip side, make sure you aren’t taking so much action and moving so fast you aren’t slowing down to gather and analyze the information you need on a regular basis.

How I Balance This

I balance this for my clients by offering quarterly or monthly check in services. Once a month or once a quarter, I go through the actions my clients have taken and the information/data related to those actions. During these check ins, we figure out that balance between information and action. What information is missing that would help us decide what new actions to take?

The end result is a clear idea of which actions led to progress and which ones didn’t. Using the information about the actions previously taken, especially those that worked, we can form a clear idea of what types of actions they need to do next and figure out what amount of information they need to help them take those actions.

With every check in, my focus is on ensuring the client has the right amount of information to measure the actions they have and to inform the future actions they will take.

The more there is that balance between information and action, the fewer problems you encounter with either too much or too little information. The more there is that balance, the more you see progress and growth.

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