In business, as in life, being informed is not just essential, it is a precursor to a productive life. As the saying goes “Ignorance is bliss” but practicing ignorance in reality allows others to pry, manipulate and use you.
What is amazing is that today’s IPhone users open their phones 80 times a day and have more information at their fingertips than any scholar in the world just a short twenty years ago. With this ease of access to knowledge one would think that we have all become more informed. Well we’d like to think that but then we’d be wrong.
Findings of the 2017 Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania bring us back to a stark and disturbing reality. The results were astounding and should concern all of us regardless of party affiliation:
One out of three couldn’t name a single right listed on the first amendment
Only 1 in 4 can name the three branches of government
A third of Americans can’t name a single branch of government.
In 1961, John Courtney Murray delivered a lecture, some say brilliant, titled, “ Return to tribalism.” He had a prophetic warning: “I suggest that that the real enemy within the gates of the city is not the Communist, but the idiot.” *
I translate “idiot” to “uninformed” but the end result is the same. If you are uninformed you can not make effective decisions based on facts and understanding. Yes, you can get lucky but do you want to take that risk with your life and rights?
In business, being informed is equally important. Successful and thriving businesses understand, watch, and expose opportunities in the market. Being informed is at the very essence of having a winning business proposition. Having the appropriate and talented team drives makes this happen. Now re read the survey findings and ask yourself if only one in three employees understand your purpose of being? If only one on four employees understand why you are better than your competition or only a third understand your go to market strategies?
Make sure that you are yourself informed and that those on your team, department and/or company are equally informed on the things that make your company differentiated. Make it your mission that no one should know more about your business, your market in general and the prevailing trends than you.
The stakes are high and with the shelf life of businesses becoming shorter, [in 1930 the average Fortune 500 had a 75 year shelf life and today that is down to 15 years] being informed is not just a matter of your prosperity but your very survival.
Make being informed a priority or assign yourself to becoming irrelevant.
*stats and quote from Suicide of the West- by Jonah Goldberg. Highly recommended read.