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A book to help navigate the flood of available information
on June 1, 2010
In "The Principle of Relevance: The Essential Strategy to Navigate Through the Information Age," Stefania Lucchetti tackles the problem of information overload by addressing the questions, "What is worth knowing?" "What is worth doing?" and "What is worth responding to?" It's a quick book to read with large font size and extra spacing between lines, but the answer Lucchetti provides to determine relevance is not as quick. It will take some practice to use Lucchetti's strategy to breeze through information for those items of relevance. And this is something the author acknowledges as she encourages you to use your time on those things determined by you to be relevant.
The author has practiced law for over ten years, and I could sort of see that in the writing. It was a bit more formal than some self-help texts, and was outlined in a very logical and systematical manner. Maybe I saw it because I've been a lawyer almost ten years now. Regardless, I think it helped solidify the message, and it makes it easy to go back and reference parts you want to review.
Again, the book is a quick read, but you'll want to take a little time thinking about what Lucchetti wrote, and how best to incorporate her strategies into your own workflow. After a preface and introduction that provide a short road map of the book, the first part covers the principle of relevance and sums up why relevance is important. The opening quote by Stephen Covey sums it up well, "Anything less than a conscious commitment to the important is an unconscious commitment to the unimportant." The author then briefly goes over five elements of her principle of relevance. These include: 1. clarity of purpose. 2. situational awareness. 3. pattern discernment. 4. attention. 5. self-knowledge and self-mastery.
Part two of the book then goes into some tools to train your brain to recognize relevance. One of the tools is a modified four-quadrant diagram from Covey's time management teachings. In this diagram, the four quadrants are: Significant but not on purpose, Relevant, Not relevant, and On purpose but not significant. Finally, part three covers some applications of the Principle of Relevance.
These tools are more aimed at the knowledge worker who must determine relevance from all of the information available at our fingertips. I don't see people using these tools for the bulk of e-mails and such flooding the in-box. With that said, I don't know how much I'll actually use the tools as laid out in the book, but by reading over them, thinking about what Lucchetti wrote, and how I can apply the strategies to my own situations, I believe I've picked up some wisdom and reinforced other ideas I'd known to better tackle the information I need for my purposes. I especially liked the short chapter on attention. It made me stop and think beyond what was written, and that is something a good book will do, make you think!
And that is what I believe is the key to this book. Many people who read this book won't connect with the examples provided, and that's okay. I believe the reader should read and absorb what is useful to them, and think about how to apply the concepts presented in this text in their own jobs and lives. If a person does that, I'm sure they will determine that this book was "Relevant."
Reviewed by Alain Burrese, J.D., author of the Lock On Joint Locking Essentials series.