We modern knowledge workers are overwhelmed with information. Thousands of unread emails clutter our inboxes. Some of these emails tell us we’ve won trips to both St. Vincent and the Grenadines and we must send over our credit card information right away. Many of us have dozens of maxed out credit cards so we don’t know which card we should actually use but the cruise ship company seems to accept all of them.
Yes, we’ve all thumbed a ride on the information superhighway, and there’s no stopping for bathroom breaks!
Just look at how far we’ve come in only 564 years since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press.
Today’s Fortune 500 company collects a petabyte of data each day! A Google search for “what is a petabyte” yields 865,000 results. A recruiter on LinkedIn told me I was a perfect fit for a job with their top-tier client, but she hasn’t responded to my request she and I meet for drinks.
That’s right, it is now harder than ever to distinguish what is signal – what helps you get the big picture right – and what is merely noise.
This is why I am wondering whether the fact that 15 uniformed FBI agents just stormed my office, thrust my CEO’s face into his desk, handcuffed him, and ordered all company finances frozen is signal – a sign of something significant – or just more noise.
Mo’ data, mo’ problems, I always say
Is that “urgent” 2 AM Slack message from your boss really as important as it seems? Is that customer complaint valid enough to pivot your entire product strategy? Several years ago we were told the dollar was strong, then it was weak again, then China was booming, then it was busting again. Oil and Bitcoin have gone up, and then they have come right back down. Were these signal? Or were they just noise?
Is it signal when 15 federal agents rappel down the side of the office and crash through the windows next to Marketing, swarm your CEO, smash his face into his desk, and read him and the CFO, CMO, CRO, SVP of HR, SVP of Product, and Associate Accounts Coordinator their Miranda Rights? Or is it just noise?
Keep calm and carry on; I’m probably going to jail
Look, you hear about jail a lot, but most of that is probably just noise. Skinhead brotherhoods. Shivs. Rats the size of dogs. All noise, and clearly not signal.
Please, God, please be noise and not signal.