Don’t apply software thinking to information gathering

One thing that software developers, architects, etc. strive for is not duplicating functionality across systems. The more systems you have in your ecosystem, the more complex it is to modify and use. Got two places where people can manage a workflow? Inevitably they will build a complex process where half of the business work is done in one workflow and half in the other. Unfortunately, while simplification like this is good for software and processes, it is not good for the general process of thinking.

To me, it’s confusing when organizations reduce or eliminate access to analytics services. Whether you’re a fan of Forrester, Gartner or some other service, it’s true that all sources of data (analyst firms, academic research, books, etc.) offer, at some level, duplicative information. One might be inclined to simply read one source and conclude the rest are duplicates. After all, duplication is bad in software and processes, so it must be bad in information as well, right?

Not so much. Edward Tufte called it ‘a diversity of evidence.’ The scientific method demands the experiments be repeatable by others, and in fact relies on such attempts to reproduce. So, it’s true that many sources provide similar kinds of nun formation, but the value is in the diversity. This is one place where you should seek to multiply, not reduce, the number of places you can take information in from. Don’t fall prey to the idea that just because simplification is good some places that it is universally good.

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