The manager has a preference for current, hot information, which he often obtains informally (telephone, unscheduled meetings, etc.). At the same time, he or she tends to pay little attention to the many routine reports provided by subordinates. The manager prefers quick information and is therefore willing to accept a high degree of risk. He also shows a preference for verbal communication.
According to Mintzberg, there are three information roles that characterize the manager:
The manager as monitor seeks and receives information to increase and improve his knowledge of the environment and the organization; information about internal operations, external facts, ideas, and trends. A modern organization has a more or less structured and formal information system that provides the manager with information about the progress and evolution of the company and the environment in which it operates. However, this is not enough, so the executive will create his own system of contacts and information gathering.
The organization receives part of the information from the outside through the manager, who acts as a disseminator, spreading it within the company, among his subordinates. Sometimes he will channel objective information, at other times he will establish preferences and criteria for action on “how he would like things to be”. In the latter case, he does not necessarily have to communicate only his own opinion, but will also communicate the opinions he receives from other external groups with which he deals, such as unions, customers, suppliers, etc.
In addition to communicating information downward, the manager must also communicate it upward and outward, acting as a spokesperson. In other words, he must provide information to his superiors or to the board of directors if he is the chairman. He must also keep groups outside the organization informed, such as customers, suppliers, the public administration, etc., and thus maintain his network of contacts.
The information needs of managers
The manager wants to receive stimulating, speculative, and current data, while the formal system provides him mainly with aggregated, precise, and historical information; on the other hand, he is eager for external information, but the formal systems provide him mainly with internal information.
The formal system deals with the control and regulatory information (production schedules, sales reports, standard costs) that is of most interest to the middle or junior manager. It does not take into account much of the more subtle information that senior managers need to make their unpredictable decisions.
As a result, the manager resists the design of most information systems and designs another system capable of providing him with the information he thinks he needs, a solution that is questionable. It is the new information technologies that, together with the organization’s analyst, must provide an effective information system designed for him.
The analyst has the following question What information does the manager need? The answer lies in studying what he looks for, what he receives, and what he uses. It is not an easy task to describe the work of managers and make it understandable for analysts.
There are two types of information systems in business management: formal systems, built into a computer, and informal systems, developed by managers. There is a clear need for organizations to have a formal management information system and for the computer to process complex but necessary information for the manager.
Managers use information to detect changes, identify problems and opportunities, develop a general knowledge of their environment for decision-making, determine the organization’s criteria, and inform the outside world and their subordinates.
The key is to study and understand the work of the manager in order to design information systems that have access to the undocumented information that he himself possesses, and that for the manager the quantitative, routine, and internal information that is traditionally provided to him does not have the importance that is usually given to it, but the uncertain, external, purposeful information is much more relevant for the manager.
It is clear that managers do not use static long-term plans, but flexible plans that can be modified on the fly; for a manager, it is much more useful to have an analysis performed well and quickly, providing results in real-time, than to have significant statistical information in a crisis segment.
But what are the real information needs of managers today? The information a manager receives should help him make decisions that contribute to the achievement of the organization’s strategic goals.
The general characteristics that define