Information Overload – The Tip of the Iceberg

by John Girard and Michael Allison, published in Inside Knowledge, available for download here.

Have you ever wondered what business-related issue creates the most anxiety amongst middle managers?  The fact that information overload would be near the top of the list might surprise you.  In December, 2007 Basex, a knowledge economy research and advisory firm, named information overload as the “problem-of-the-year” for 2008.  In doing so they estimated that over the course of 2008 an estimated $650 billion dollars would be lost in the United States due to reduced productivity and throttled innovation.  Additionally, their research concluded that as much as eight hours of worker productivity per week is lost because of this phenomenon.

It is clear that Basex’s “problem-of-the-year” declaration makes information overload a timely and relevant issue, but this should not come as a revelation since many of you have been bombarded with emails and articles about it.  In fact, a Google search of Information Overload results in a list containing more than 2,000,000 entries.  When this search is limited to Google Scholar, the list still contains 224,000 entries.   Despite information overload’s characterization as the usual suspect, recent research suggests that overload is just the tip of the iceberg and other information related issues create more stress for middle managers.