A few weeks back, I wrote about looking in the shadows, and trying to make sure that when we seek information from employees, we make a conscious effort to talk to the normally quiet folks. They have information that could be important, but we don’t always ask for. They need encouragement to share.
There is a similar issue in listening carefully to the people we normally hear the most from. Sometimes, those people tell us what we want to hear, and we need to know the nuances of their behavior to know we are getting good information.
We are really good at hiding information from others. We learned at an early age how to pretend, and many of us have mastered the skill. Some pretend to maintain an image they want others to have about them. Others are always recommending ideas that they recently read about, or they pass along article and blog posts that they think you might find interesting. They try to maintain an image of being on top of trends. Then there are the complainers, who always have suggestions about how this place could be better, but never have a clue as to how we might practically implement their ideas. Information like that is sometimes overkill – data that serves no purpose.
In photography, an overexposed photograph is one in which too much light hit the film (or the sensor) and the resultant image has less detail and more white. With the data many modern cameras collect, you can use software to “turn down” the brightness. Sometimes we will see some information exists there, and it might be very different than what the overexposed image hints at. Too much light, and you can’t make out the detail.
To collect information that is balanced, it is important to look in the shadows, but it is just as important to gather the right amount of information from the bright lights. They can diminish the overall quality and detail of data you collect as well.