| ||Thomas Davenport, John Beck |
Harvard Business School Press
The Attention Economy is the latest book from Tom Davenport, one of the leading thinkers in Process Design, now with the consultancy firm, Accenture. The key argument of the book is that in our modern society, people’s attention is severely limited and that the basis of success is attracting that attention from your customers, and managing it when it is your own. They define attention as: “Attention is focused mental engagement on a particular item of information. Items come into our awareness, we attend to a particular item, and then we decide whether to act.”
The book covers the subjects of strategy, media, marketing, e-commerce and management, all from the perspective of getting and managing attention.
From the perspective of our interest – knowledge worker performance, there are several areas of interest.
· They argue that most businesses have more initiatives than people can reasonably pay attention to, and that old initiatives should be stopped, yet routinely are allowed to continue. Whilst attention tends to be attracted by new initiatives, old ones are typically incomplete and have a group of champions with a vested interest in completion.
· That most knowledge workers and managers are bombarded with too much information – phone calls, voice mails, e-mails, mail and that significant amounts of attention are used to manage this. They suggest that the return of secretaries to the workplace may be a solution, together with improved IT systems.
· It is not productive to multitask. Some firms have periods where email/phones are turned off, and others have areas where workers can work in peace.
The concept of attention is a useful one in defining knowledge worker performance, since it is key to how knowledge workers decide what to spend their time on. Focusing their attention on the important things for a business is a good way to ensure they get done.
Dr Ian Gregory 2004