I have often heard it said that information is power. It is one of those expressions, like time is money or greed is good, that hark back to a time of plenty, when business was in your face and when everyone was more Gordon Gekko.
Not that I really bought into such things. Anyone who has any sense of compassion for the world will know that greed does awful things, while the idea that all of our time should be spent earning money leaves me cold. There must come a time when enough is enough.
Information and power is another thing. I always took this expression to mean that those who have the information have power over those who don’t and that the best way to keep that power is keep a tight hold of it. There may be some truth in this though I have found that in this more agile world, giving away information often leads to greater opportunity and so greater earning opportunity or even power.
The other day though I realised that there was more to this than I had first thought. There are different types of information that you possess, some that you need to use and others it helps to have.
There is information that you need to run your business such as a set of metrics, yet when dealing with suppliers there is a whole set of information that is worth having even if you never really use it. Possession of this information means that the supplier has to have it, unless they do they can’t provide it. Even if you never use it, at least you know that they have it.
The fact that you now possess the information means that the supplier is under the impression that this is important to you and so is obliged to take note of it and understand its meaning. They need to be on their metal as at anytime you may choose to ask those awkward questions.
Asking for and holding information is a powerful way of focussing attention on whatever is important to you. In this way, the possession of information gives you power.