News is Overrated

by John DePutter, Dec 5th, 2012
So much information, all the time. We are positively drowning in it.

Don’t get me wrong: information is critical to a farming operation. But the real value isn’t in the news itself, not in the many facts or opinions or speculation flowing your way every second of every day. I believe the real value is in the filter: making the connections between the information that matters, drawing out the insight where possible, and letting the rest go.

When we started Good Morning Prairies and E-Morning Ontario about 12 years ago, we had the idea that farmers would find value in a service that would give them just the information they needed. We would filter out the stuff that didn’t matter and provide a concise executive summary of the stuff that did.  Nowadays this is even more relevant: we help farmers escape from information overload, without missing what matters.

A lot of our services take a similar approach. Our advisory services involve spotting, analyzing and interpreting the big, macro trends that will Canadian farming. Sometimes this means the real nugget of insight is in direct opposition to general popular opinion: it might mean being bullish at the top of a long-term cycle. It might mean advising farmers to back away just when the crowd is getting really loud.

Whether or not you subscribe to our services, I believe farmers can benefit from applying these three steps when it comes to managing information overload.

1)   Filter out the noise when and where you can. Subscribe to trusted sources. Look for the information that helps you make solid decisions rather than just trivial knowledge. Accept the fact that you can’t catch every story – but if you have sources you trust you can still feel connected, informed and up-to-date.

2)   Think critically. It’s human to doubt even ourselves, no matter how logical and experienced we are, when the masses seem to be going a different way. In fact, mass hype is probably a sign something is wrong. I am impressed by our customers and their willingness to question things – which leads me to my final point…

3)   Ask questions.  Any information is just a starting point. Now more than ever, just because something is published (online or in print) doesn’t mean it’s gospel. It doesn’t mean it’s the end of the story, either. We answer the phones in our office: we take your questions. And we frequently poll our readers and report back. Because we know the information is only the beginning – just one step in running a complex business and making smart business decisions.