In today’s business environment, the smallest companies must compete with the largest companies. The only chance the small company has is to understand and use the two business tools that determine the level of success, or failure, of every business, large or small, information and communication. Every business decision is based on the information received from personal knowledge or from the knowledge of someone else. The problem most small organizations face is they don’t know how to find or deliver the information they need. There is so much information available, so many ways it can be communicated, and so many different ways to interpret the information that making the right decision or selecting the right action to be taken presents a major problem for organizations and managers. The questions then are, out of all the information available, what to use, and how to use it.
Most small organizations use the same research methods learned by high school students. We aren’t sure these techniques work well for high school research projects; however, we are sure those techniques only cover the basics for college-level research, and there is a major conceptual difference in the methodology needed to conduct the professional research required to operate a business. To overcome barriers encountered in the information search, researchers must focus on how to find needed information, not where to look for needed information. How to find needed information gives organizations the options of where to look for information. This develops a systematic way of sifting through the overwhelming volume of information available.
There’s so much information available today that there just isn’t enough time to go through all of it, and the magnitude is growing exponentially. Richard Wurman, in his book Information Anxiety, states, “A weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a lifetime in seventeenth-century England.” In fact, the amount of information available to organizations is growing so fast that, in order to keep up, organizations must relearn everything about doing business and their industry every two years (some industries are changing faster). The information problems of small organizations that must be addressed are where to start looking for information, when to stop looking for information, how to effectively use the information once it has been found, and who should be searching for information? The key to using information is knowing what to look for, finding valuable information, and getting it to the right people who make decisions and take action.
Understanding information is probably the most overlooked aspect of acquiring business information. Too often, organizations act on limited data and guesswork rather than acquiring a more thorough systematic analysis. In the hands of the experienced communication officer, identifying, collecting, and disseminating needed information will provide a valuable contribution to organizational structure and success. Then, based on informed judgment, sound decisions can be made, thus developing both primary and alternative action plans.
Few small companies have enough manpower or time to carry out an extensive communication project. For this reason, small companies have limited competitive capabilities compared to large companies. The most important resource large companies have is information. Information is the foundation for all business decisions. Large companies have entire departments, and sometimes facilities, with the responsibility of collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information. Information collection, analysis, and assimilation must be repositioned to a high priority in operations management in order for the small company to really become competitive. The key to this is through full communication development. This can be accomplished by outsourcing communication efforts. A knowledgeable and experienced communication coach can be an economical way of adding a communication advantage to your organization. Information and communication work together as one to provide knowledge and direction to the organization’s process to achieve success. Small companies can no longer delegate this important operational activity to computer salespeople, librarians, or clerks. Top management must take an active role in the company’s information and communication management system.
? Professor Marvell Lawson is an author, professional speaker, and communication coach who works with individuals and organizations wanting to improve their speech preparation and presentation skills; and communicate more effectively to grow their business, make more money, and build personal and professional credibility. Prof. Lawson is an Affiliate Professor lecturing on Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, and Organizational Communication and Development. Visit my website at www.centerforinformationdesign.com