“In the old model, subordinates provided information and leaders disseminated commands.

We reversed it: we had our leaders provide information so that subordinates, armed with context, understanding, and connectivity, could take the initiative and make decisions.

Shared consciousness meant that people at every level on our org chart now enjoyed access to the kind of perspective once limited to senior leaders.”

Source: Stanley McChrystal, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement

Information overload and information withholding are two ends of a spectrum, but perhaps best viewed from the perspective of the receiver, not the sender.

That is, perhaps the recipient of information should give judgment on what is information overload (you are providing too much information and it is decreasing my effectiveness) or information withholding (you are holding back information and it is weakening my effectiveness).

The judgment should perhaps not lie in the giver’s hands, because he or she cannot really judge what the world would look like without all the information, to be able to decide what to share and what to withhold.

Perhaps then, to follow the example in the quote, the default status should be to share ALL information, so that everybody is on the same page and has a “shared consciousness”.

Until I experience first hand the impact of such an arrangement, I won’t truly understand the potential pros and cons. And context is important – some things (confidential, sensitive) must not be shared.

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