reason 51

Reason is a monthly missive from the partners of Essex Two, a vertically integrated communication consultancy. This issue of reason marks the beginning of its fifth year and our 17th as an agency. We invite our readers to think in new ways about their business, their customers and the opportunities for meaningful communication between them. Joseph and Nancy Essex

Information is not the same as intelligence  Those were the words Charles Eames spoke to those attending the International Design Conference in Aspen in the late seventies. Charles and his partner and wife Ray committed themselves to bridging the gaps between concepts and communication, between art and application, between work and life.

Charles and Ray understood that the common denominator for all forms of communication is the essential nature and mechanics of human beings. No matter what communication techniques or technology is applied, connecting with people is virtually the same across languages, cultures and time. While the process for considering, accepting, storing and accessing information may be different for each individual, the catalyst that stimulates that process is and has always been the same because it is part of what makes us human.

While there are several others, the principal tenets of the communication process are awareness, concern, dialog and response. From the wounded bison cave paintings in Altamira, Spain c. 15,000 B.C. that recorded a successful hunt to the thousands of new blogs posted every week, each expressing a particular point of view, human beings want other human beings to hear them.

Technological Soapbox  The hunter/artist and those generating their own technological soapbox first want their audiences to be aware of their existence. They then need to present the information in a way that will stimulate interest or concern, promising something of value to those willing to listen. If concern is established, the response is usually an unspoken question—how can I gain the value of the promise—raised by those who want the promise to be fulfilled. The effort of the sender is rewarded when receiver responds using the provided mechanism.

This explanation of the communication process and the ways in which human beings react to stimulation may seem obvious. More than obvious, it is essential. By appreciating how we are affected by the communication process and the mechanics of our own human nature, we can better understand how to evaluate and choose the messages and promises we want to consider.

Avoid the cul de sac  The Eames’s quote suggests that information alone does not guarantee intelligence. More to the point, too much information can cloud, even limit intelligence. Having too many choices without an effective criteria for guiding selection will create the quintessential traffic jam. By developing decision-making criteria designed to accomplish a particular task, individuals and institutions can avoid the cul de sac and go straight to the expressway.

“Information is not the same as intelligence” could be the mantra of every chief executive trying to take back his company from those who would guide its future using rivers of data without regard to the direction of the flow or the parameters of the banks. Movement without intention is a flood, not irrigation. Guiding a successful enterprise has more to do with making intelligent choices than gathering intelligence.

The partners of Essex Two have over 35 years of experience helping organizations and individuals articulate their goals and identify those choices, strategies and tactics capable of achieving those goals. Visit the Essex Two website for case studies that demonstrate our ability to stimulate the success of our clients.


Worth your time:  Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Most books that have anything to do with economics are either dumbed-down or so full of jargon they read like a text message. This book makes the theoretical tangible by connecting its concepts with real-life events and real people. While there is great deal to question in this book there is also a great deal to consider.


Special Note:  The last four years of reason are now available on our website.

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