Managing is Filtering

Managing is Filtering

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The sheer volume of information flowing through an organization is overwhelming. Once companies grow past a handful of people, it becomes impossible for everyone to stay in the loop about everything. Managers filter. Just as platforms like Facebook or Twitter curate your feed to enhance user experience, someone must curate the flow of information within a company. Managers ensure that the right information reaches the right people at the right time.

The classic example of this is the downward information flow. Managers shield the individual contributors (ICs) on their team from the chaotic pre-work involved in planning new projects or shuffling priorities among stakeholders. If ICs had to be bogged down by every detail of pre-flight initiatives, they would waste time on projects that might never see the light of day, leaving little room for productive work on the tasks the company actually ends up prioritizing. By filtering and distilling information, managers allow ICs to focus on executing key projects effectively.

More subtly, this responsibility extends to filtering information upward. Leadership teams must operate at a high level of abstraction, and are, by definition, not close to what’s happening on the ground. It falls on managers to aggregate and synthesize information from the day-to-day details, highlighting what’s important while keeping the noise at bay. In doing so, managers ensure that leadership can make informed decisions without being overwhelmed by minutiae. Good managers, therefore, act as bidirectional filters, streamlining information flow to align with organizational objectives and driving efficiency from both ends.

In a large organization, most information is irrelevant to most people. Having the ability to distinguish signals from a cacophony of possible distractions is a key skill to hone.

Photo: Sidewalk Coffee Time, by me. Previously posted on A long short month.

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