Doug Laney has done a lot of good stuff on infonomics, and the value of information. But can information have a negative value?
“FBI Didn’t Follow Up Tip By Person Close to Shooter,” The Wall Street Journal, February 17, 2018 A1. FBI got a tip on January 5 about the person who ended up shooting up the school at Parkland on February 14. Failed to act on it. Seventeen people died.
Do you have a duty to use information you have? What if you have important information and you don’t use it, or can’t use it because you can’t find it? Is that a liability (i.e., a “negative asset”)?
Do your internal controls make sure that critical information gets to the decision makers promptly? If not, who’s responsible?
Look at the past year or two in industry and you will find several examples of the cost of not having important information reach the right people at the right time. For example, Wells Fargo management didn’t learn of the account cramming until months or years later. The Board at GE didn’t know about the two-plane approach the CEO was using.
Which is worse, knowing or not knowing? Don’t know, but certainly knowing and not doing anything is the most expensive.