Lessons From Sherlock Holmes About Management Information

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel “A Study in Scarlet” Dr. Watson is amazed to discover that Sherlock Holmes doesn’t appreciate that the Earth spins around the Sun.  How could a man of such insight and intelligence be so, well, stupid?

When challenged, Sherlock utters the immortal line:

“What the deuce is it to me? … You say that we go around the sun.  If we went round the moon it wouldn’t make a pennyworth of difference to me or my work”

We have a finite capacity to process information, our brains are only so big, and our working memory, the bit that does the thinking, can, at best, process 7 or 8 pieces of information at any one time.  My wife is impressed if I can hold down 3

It is a wise man who is able to split out what is really important to him and focus on that, rather than believing he needs every possible piece of information at his finger tips

Something to ponder as you plough through page 97 of your monthly management information “dashboard”

Management Information and Sherlock Holmes

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  1. HEllo James
    Are you sure you are not a zen student / practitioner?

    What you write in this post is in exactly in tune with zen which favours simplicity and what is so. With zen, you strip away all that is not essential. Furthermore, with zen you work with what is so – experience – rather than get all wrapped up with theory!

    What can I say, except to say that this is a wise post and one which I am in complete agreement with.


  2. I think it depends on the person. I have known individuals that could not function at full capacity if they did not multi-task beyond belief. For some it is a necessity.

    • James Lawther says:

      Thanks for your comment Larry, I think some believe that for them it is a necessity. I work with plenty who do. I just wonder how effective they could be if they backed away from this belief. Is it self limiting?


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