Internal communications: the difference between information and insight

curious black catWe’ve been talking about internal communications at work recently and we all agree that we can improve.

Don’t get me wrong – we do talk.  A lot.  We have Yammer, our bi-weekly all staff meetings, snappy weekly reports, as well as the various regular team and management meetings and lunchtime briefings. 

Our methods of communication have evolved over the five years we’ve been in existence and we’ve been conscious not to create the type of bureaucratic company where none of us want to work.  We’re not IBM, after all.

But now there are more of us and we’re busier than ever.  Keeping on top of the important stuff is critical and that’s where the difference between information and insights comes in.

The difference between information and insight is can be unclear so here are the dictionary definitions for each:

Definition:  information

  1. knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance; news: information concerning a crime. 
  2. knowledge gained through study, communication, research, instruction, etc.; factual data: His wealth of general information is amazing. 
  3. the act or fact of informing. 
  4. an office, station, service, or employee whose function is to provide information to the public: The ticket seller said to ask information for a timetable.

Definition:  insight 

  1. an instance of apprehending the true nature of a thing, especially through intuitive understanding: an insight into 18th-century life. 
  2. penetrating mental vision or discernment; faculty of seeing into inner character or underlying truth. 
  3. Psychology
    1. an understanding of relationships that sheds light on or helps solve a problem. 
    2. (in psychotherapy) the recognition of sources of emotional difficulty. 
    3. an understanding of the motivational forces behind one’s actions, thoughts, or behavior; self-knowledge.

There is a world of difference between the two; understanding what the information is telling you (insight) is much more valuable than just understanding the facts (information). 

The ability to connect the dots and see the impact of a piece of information is what’s needed when so much is going on.  This is separating the wheat from the chaff whilst  also knowing that the wheat can make bread which can feed you.

Anyway, this following video illustrates the point far more succintly than I can. 

5 Tips for being better at internal comns

  1. You need to want to communicate with your colleagues.  Practice active listening in meetings and ask people what they’re up to when you meet them at the kettle.
  2. Never turn up to a meeting without a method for taking notes.  A pen and paper works well.
  3. Tell your colleagues what you think they need to know which is not necessarily what you want them to know.  Be analytical and think what the impact of your info share is for them
  4. Don’t wait to be told things, you need to be a self starter in the information stakes and find things out for yourself.  Understand that everyone’s too busy to spoon feed you the information that you need.
  5. Learning on the job only happens if you are curious.  So be curious.

I’m sure there are loads of tips I’ve missed here – what would you add?

7 thoughts on “Internal communications: the difference between information and insight”

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