First, I can totally relate to the onslaught of information you described. Before it was news tickers at the bottom of my screen, but now it’s all manner of content coming at me live through every device. Can’t we relax a bit? Give ourselves a bit more time to ponder and decide?
Likely not. Not when Netflix just showed up, but could be over sooner than its replacement is profitable. Not when you can choose a new, slightly misleading but wildly successful book title in like 12 minutes. Not only do we notice the slipstream more, we need to learn to harness it better.
Back to the question at hand. (I’m just stalling.)
As an innovation decision-maker, I started from the place of basically wanting both. That is, I want to make the immediate more reliable and to make the reliable more immediate.
To do that, you need a powerful way to process information and inputs. For innovation, the question you pose is often just as important as the answer you find. For the time being at least, I believe we still want and need people posing the questions and making the decisions. Sophisticated number crunching can help, but I don’t think such systems pose or answer innovation questions that well. There are experiments out there (see Hunch), but they help when the question is known and ideally univariate.
So, if innovation is in part about bringing new things into the world, this is where I come out:
I want reliable people posing provocative questions and processing more immediate inputs.
"Reliable people" are those that have learned to spot patterns through experience and many cycles of learning. Such people exhibit a relentless curiosity that drives them to learn and challenge their patterns frequently. Ultimately, I want such people working close to the questions and looking to be surprised and contradicted by what they find as quickly as possible.
With such prevalent access to more immediate data, will people become more reliable sooner? Does immediacy make us better calibrated decision-makers (or allow less qualified decision-makers to make better decisions)? This sounds a bit like trying to bring the Gladwell/Surowiecki discussion from several years ago forward.
Maybe when we have tools or other people to help us process it, but as individuals I think it still takes a lot of experience. But that experience, combined with a healthy dose of humility and history, can come more rapidly than ever before.