I’ll admit it: I like factoids, those baubles of information that are so shiny and enticing. One of my favorite authors a few years back wrote books chock full of them. I’d highlight and underline for future reference. One problem, of course, is that factoids usually have a short shelf life. They quickly become outdated and/or obsolete.
What is a factoid? Factoids are defined as brief or trivial items of news or information. I think of them as the tasty junk food of the mind. We love to write them down and quote them whenever we can. They are usually interesting if not downright intriguing. But they’re not particularly helpful.
Recently I read that one of 10 American employees became so frustrated when unable to access email that they committed violence against their computer.
Consider: What kind of violence? Not explained. Who did the research? That wasn’t cited. When was it done? Not known. How was the survey framed? Missing information. Had that information been provided, it wouldn’t have been a factoid.
At the end of the day, the factoid isn’t worth much…until you consider the factors.
A factor is something that contributes to a result or outcome. I’m more interested in the reasons a measurable number of people would beat on their computers when they can’t get their email.
Some thinking and observation suggests these factors in business culture today:
The perceived important of email.
The sense of urgency for a response.
The increased demands on time and productivity.
The pressures that escalate inconveniences into seeming disasters.
The short tempers and edginess resulting from the above.
Factors are more helpful than factoids. They aren’t as sexy and take some contemplation and analysis. Ultimately, they point towards the issues that need to be addressed or the opportunities that are being created.
We have more information than we can use but always need good insights. Factors, not factoids, are the way to lead your thinking down productive paths to desired results and workable solutions.