Channel Management

Communications Overload

I came across this article recently that talked about information overload.  It is from Harvard Business Website.

There is certainly a lot of that going around. I remember working for a large government organisation and the email went off like the old ticker tape machines.

It was nice to know that everyone thought you were important to know what was happening or whether you were a stakeholder in the project however I had to devise a strategy of managing the messages.

The organisation helped by supplying an email cataloging tool, however, at the end of the day it came down to me.

To help in understanding information overload in an organisation, its best to diagram the information channels. The diagram below is great way to get a snap shot of the information channels.

What is clear in the diagram below is the reliance on email as a channel for delivering information. That’s an issue. You can guarantee there are a lot of emails not being read.

To make matters worse you’ll find that users will be scan reading their information (see Jakob Neilson’s article from

So if there is someone who has an axe to grind by writing 5 page scrollable email, it ain’t going to get fully digested.

For organisations preparing a diagram like the one below, this allows everyone to start a conversation about  the current status of their communication channels and the overload that occurs and start considering strategies to minimise the overload.

In the diagram below its obvious that too much is sent down the email channels. There would be a lot of scan reading occurring due to the overuse of that channel.

The thing to do would be review the overloaded  channel and find a way to minimise all non-essential communications.

I hope you find this useful.


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Chris Mundy