If we took a hard look at what we consider to be important when building our LP career, where would staying on top of the latest industry news and trends fall on our list? If it wasn’t your company, would it matter to you which retailers were breached over the last six months, or how it has impacted their business? Do the latest statistics or industry trends really change the way you approach your job? Does it really matter whether or not you were able to attend a loss prevention conference this year? How does a cargo theft or robbery halfway across the country influence what happens in your back yard? How many times do we need to hear that credit card fraud is a problem in the stores? How often do we need to read about the latest technological gadget or industry training seminar? Are you as informed as you should be? Does it matter to your LP career, and why should it matter to you?
We all know what the answers are supposed to be. But is that a true reflection of how we really feel? If we’re honest with ourselves, the answers might not play out the same way. We might think that it doesn’t matter whether or not we could have learned or gained anything by attending an industry conference because we didn’t have the opportunity to attend. We may rationalize that industry problems are only important when they occur within our own companies. We can believe that some problems are going to exist no matter what we do, and we may just be spinning our wheels. We can minimize the importance of progress or squander the opportunity to learn for any number of self-serving reasons. In some way, shape, or form, we’re all guilty of this way of thinking at some point.
That’s not necessarily an indictment of our character or a reflection on our work ethic. It’s just that none of us are that good. None of us are that informed. We get tired. We get busy. We get to a point where we suffer from information overload and just can’t seem to accept one more piece of information. We disengage and get involved in some other aspect of our lives. Some of us may have a greater desire or make a bigger effort. Some of us may have a higher capacity for absorbing the information. But we simply can’t, don’t, or won’t be that informed. We may make the effort, but no matter what we’re told or what is preached to us, it’s just not in our nature or capability to know or learn everything that we should.
A Tool for Every Job
So, what do we do? It isn’t a revelation for any of us to hear that information is important. Of course we understand the value of staying informed, and how these events and this information will directly or indirectly impact all of us. We know that information is power in many different ways. In response, what each of us does is set priorities. We determine what is most important to learn. We look at what’s most valuable to us, we consider our options, and we make decisions. But fortunately—or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it—there’s a tremendous amount of information that we must sort through, decipher, and absorb. Therefore, we seek out tools to help us manage this plethora of information and decide what is most valuable to our lives and our LP career. And that’s where social media gives us a boost. That’s why digital dialogue is so critical.
Social media is an ever-evolving collection of online tools, platforms, and applications that enable all of us to interact with one another and share information. By using web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue, it creates an effective channel for individuals and groups of people to connect, interact, create, and share. The question then becomes, are you using the right tools to help support your LP career? Are you taking full advantage of the tools that are available to you?
Now let’s take a moment to pause for the excuses, since this is where they start to flow.
- I don’t have time. Really? These tools are designed to gather important and relevant information and present that content to you in a way that is convenient, easy, organized, and swift. Are you really that busy that you don’t have time to read a headline and make a decision as to whether an article might hold value? Are those two seconds really that critical to your everyday work schedule?
- I don’t need or want another app on my phone. Would that be because “Angry Birds” or “Candy Crush” is that much more valuable to your professional growth? If there are really so many apps on your phone that it’s difficult to manage, maybe there’s a deeper issue. There’s a reason that it’s called a smartphone. Think about it.
- It’s just another email that I have to manage. If the topic of an email doesn’t hold interest or value to you, just hit “delete.” We all do it every day. But the content we’re referencing is professionally-based, and focused on subjects directly related to LP career. What if the topic does hold interest or value? What if it makes you better or makes your life easier? Isn’t it much wiser to allow yourself the option?
- I’m just not that interested. At least it’s an honest answer. But keep in mind the power of information. Access to information is half the battle. This approach is not information management—it’s information avoidance; and there are potential consequences.
Leaders pride themselves on making informed decisions. This is an opportunity to make an informed decision about information. What choice will you make? If you have a strong argument for not remaining informed, we’d love to hear it. In fact, we’d be happy to discuss it in our digital media, discussion groups, or our next column in the print magazine. The stage is yours.
To read the full article as it appeared in the June-July 2014 edition of LP Magazine, go to “Staying Informed: Is It Really That Important?”