John Hagel – Passion seems to provide a focusing device

It’s certainly a huge challenge the issue of how do we handle all the information and knowledge of what’s available increasing through the internet and other mechanisms. I think that this whole discussion of filters at one level gives me some discomfort because I think the temptation is that we filter for things we are used to, comfortable with, looking for and the risk with filters is that we filter out information, people, knowledge that may not, at first glance seem to be relevant to us but turn out to be challenging to us, giving us new perspectives, new ideas.

And so I think that the balancing act is how you find filters that also help to introduce new ideas and new ways of doing things to you that end up being quite relevant. For that reason I’m very focused on, not so much mechanical filters or technology filters but people as filters. I’ve been very active on Twitter and one of the things that I found most valuable about Twitter is because I focus on connecting with people who are very diverse, have very different kinds of backgrounds and experiences to my own. I’m constantly introduced to new ideas that actually turn out to be quite relevant and interesting, but because they are people I trust and have respect for I’m confident that I’m not going to be overloaded with things that are not useful, not relevant, so it is a balancing act and I think that the people end up being one of the best ways to deal with that information overload.

I would also say that an interesting phenomenon to me is if I talk to people who are really passionate about their work and what they’re doing, I actually rarely hear any concern about filtering. Passionate people seem to be able to make choices very quickly and effectively regarding what’s really useful, [interesting and relevant. And it’s the people who are not really passionate about their work or about what they’re doing, who seemed more stressed by the overload. Passion seems to provide a focusing device that can be very helpful in dealing with the massive amount of information. You instinctively navigate very effectively if you have passion and if you don’t; you end up just consumed with all kinds of things that turn out to be irrelevant.

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