How Executives Can Manage Information Overload

Manage Information Overload

25 Jun How Executives Can Manage Information Overload

A recent FORBES article discusses, and actual has 10 Steps To Conquer Information Overload. FORBES has some great steps. However, we prefer not to “conquer” information overload, but how to use so much information to your advantage. One thing we all need to realize is that all this information is here to stay, and the rate at which we generate information will continue to grow. Resistance is futile – don’t fight information overload, manage information overload – manage the fire hose.

Here are three quick ways executives can manage information overload.

Using Indirect KPIs. This sounds very specific, but what we find is that there are numerous pieces of information that really mean minimal to an executive. However, when several small KPIs are correlated, the result can lead to a KPI that an executive can review and make a decision quickly and more importantly, accurately. Indirect KPIs are KPIs which impact other KPIs not found within a straightforward “drill-down” or “drill-up” manor; these are KPIs that correlate to or impact other KPIs. Indirect KPIs are much harder to determine (vs. simply adding up numbers in a typical manner), but can provide insights into supply chain issues and drive improvements.   Indirect KPIs are KPIs that connect the dots. Rather than showing the executing the dots (smaller, tactical KPIs), expose the executive to the already-connected-dots.

Shallow Dive Analytics. We continually focus on the concept of shallow-dive analytics. By skimming the surface of your ocean of data, you reduce the chance of drowning in information overload. In shallow dive analytics, we focus our executives and knowledge workers on a crucial set of business metrics that provide high-level insight and direction on the areas that require a deeper dive. When combining shallow-dive analytics with indirect and direct KPIs, we strengthen our understanding of the issues and provide the insight necessary to making decisions.

Follow a defined methodology to manage information overload.   Recently, we introduced The Sage Clarity Real Time KPI Maturity Framework.   With information overload, we probably have “KPI Overload” – too many KPIs. We cannot start eliminating KPIs arbitrarily. One way to manage the large number of KPIs and thus, information overload, is in addition to determining what KPIs are needed, to determine when such KPIs are needed. Executives may need information immediately, tomorrow, next week, next month or sometimes, next year. By using a time horizon, of now, we can eliminate information needed next week, next month or next year, and reduce our KPIs to those needed now. The methodology in our real-time framework helps organizations determine how to re-design your business metrics to provide the best impact.


As we climb the organization ladder, managing information becomes more and more important, since the higher-level the management, the larger impact the decision can be, therefore, and the more strategic impact to the business a decision is. By applying the above three steps to managing information overload, we can reduce the difficulty a person can make in making business-impacting decisions.