The value of information

Information/Visualisation/Transparency is great, if you do something with it. Information has no value until it is acted on. This concept is expressed in many different ways that all essentially mean the same thing;

  • Lean says while value flows downstream, information is best when it flows upstream, as feedback to improve future value.
  • Systems theory says that feedback helps stabilise a system to stop it wandering off target – e.g. a thermostat. (The wrong kind of feedback can make a system spin out of control though – e.g. sound-system feedback howls).
  • Many bodies of knowledge promote continual improvement as a foundational practice to ensure quality and innovation.  Improvement practices require input on needs, problems, and risks.
  • We also hear a lot about the necessity to be a learning organisation, to have a culture of learning from observation.
  • Complexity theory, and agile thinking, tell us that (in most real situations) the only way to know is to do, that we cannot predict the outcome, that all work is therefore an experiment, giving us fresh information to move another step forward.
  • Safety thinking tells us to welcome, embrace, even reward failure (or at least telling us about it), since failure is a cost when hidden but an asset when we learn from it.


All are different lenses on the same reality.