Organizations as well as individuals can suffer from what bears striking resemblance to ADD. Almost everyone continues to experience information overload. Some who have studied this phenomenon invoke metaphors such as a “blizzard” of data that creates a “fog” or “clutter.” Meanwhile, information providers struggle to get through “blizzards” to reach those who are most important to them. How to attract their attention? Then, how to capture that attention with what has been described by Chip and Dan Heath as “stickiness”?
As indicated in The Attention Economy, after conducting an extensive research project, Thomas Davenport and John Beck concluded that attention is “the new currency of business.” Perhaps Michael Wolf agrees, having written a brilliant book about “the entertainment economy”; perhaps Joseph Pine and James Gilmore also agree, having written a book about “the experience economy.”
Long ago, Andrew Grove concluded that “only the paranoid survive” and wrote a book bearing that title. That conviction stresses the importance of being constantly and aggressively alert to one’s circumstances as well as to the circumstances of one’s organization.
It means being alert for potential perils, of course, but it also means listening intently when engaged in a conversation and being aware of emerging opportunities.
One evening at a cocktail party, after a number of brief encounters during which I exchanged banal comments with various strangers, I decided to try an experiment. At the buffet table, I found myself next to someone I did not know. He shook hands without ever making eye contact. “Hey, how’ya doing’?”
I replied, “I just learned that I have Dutch Elm disease.”
“Arright! Wayda go!” He then moved on to another non-conversation.
If attention is “the new currency of business,” many people are insolvent…and unaware of the reasons why.
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