“A child with a smart phone has instant access to more information than the US president did only 15 years ago,” according to Think Quarterly.
Any wonder why we adults often feel so overwhelmed by the flood of information we get swept up in each day?
For those of us who communicate with others professionally inside organizations, this is a relatively new problem. With employees accessing so much stuff on their own inside and outside the company firewalls, it’s hard to get people’s attention. (By comparison, when information was scarce, employees looked to us to provide them with the information we were able to gather.)
So we need to stop shoveling out stuff and instead start curating more. As Steve Rosenbaum, author of the new book, The Curation Nation, wrote in this opinion piece, curation is just as important as creation.
Curation—the act of sharing items of interest that add value either as is or through synthesis—has been on my radar screen for more than 18 months. I wrote “Are you a curator or an editor?”, fall 2009. Back then, my perspective was narrower than it is now.
These three trends make curation critical, especially inside organizations, to cut through the clutter and help people focus—or refocus—on issues that matter.
- The overload of information in terms of quantity and speed. People often miss important nuggets or even big trends. (And, let’s face it, our daily work projects are seldom the “time magnets” that people gravitate to. As Adrian Ott, the author of the The 24-Hour Customer: New Rules for Winning in a Time-Starved, Always-Connected Economy, says, people like to spend their valuable time with Nike+ iPod Sport, Angry Birds, Disney World, and other products that allow them to pursue personal pursuits, improve their status, and increase their acceptance with family, friends, and co-workers. For more about this, see Be time wise when providing wisdom. )
- Interest in the real and authentic. People often want to see and touch things that real people created rather than hearing a sanitized version from a stuffy suit.
- Changing rules of the road. In our 24/7 news cycle, no one accepts the phrase “No comment” anymore. Instead, we want instant answers, which we think we can find on Facebook, Twitter, or our peers if authority figures won’t respond.
So what are effective ways to curate? Try these five:
- Call out the important; highlight the areas or topics that matter now.
- Connect the dots, making the connections to your business strategy, key themes, and values. This also helps people recognize patterns.
- Provide context, explaining why something is important and worth paying attention to.
- Summarize key points so you’re providing clarity through the noise. And be willing to synthesize too.
- Encourage conversations—even convene discussion groups—so people can explore issues in a deeper manner than the email or social media posts going back and forth. Take the time to ask probing questions to further the discussion to create ah-ha insights.
Also, don’t rewrite or re-purpose the report from one of your marketing gurus, policy wonks, or another peer. Instead, provide the link or document and then add a short summary, some color commentary, and maybe some graphics that will appeal to the stakeholders who will find the information of value.
The advantage to you? You save time. You gain clarity. You build credibility. And you’re also preparing to communicate with Generation C, as Jim Richardson, the Managing Director of the UK design firm Sumo, talks about. This is the generation of content, creativity, connectivity, and curation.
How are you curating?