The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Businessby Thomas H. Davenport, John C. Beck
Welcome to the attention economy, in which the new scarcest resource isn't ideas or talent, but attention itself. This groundbreaking book argues that today's businesses are headed for disaster-unless they overcome the dangerously high attention deficits that threaten to cripple today's workplace. Learn to manage this/i>
"Thought provoking" - Time Magazine
Welcome to the attention economy, in which the new scarcest resource isn't ideas or talent, but attention itself. This groundbreaking book argues that today's businesses are headed for disaster-unless they overcome the dangerously high attention deficits that threaten to cripple today's workplace. Learn to manage this critical yet finite resource, or fail!
"A worthy message" - Publishers Weekly
Author Biography: Thomas H. Davenport is the Director of the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change and author of Process Innovation and Working Knowledge, Harvard Business School Press. John C. Beck is an Associate Partner and Senior Research Fellow at the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change.
- Harvard Business Review Press
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Read an Excerpt
How Executives Can Help Their Companies Manage the Scarcest Resource of All: Attention
By Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck
For several years we have been investigating how the boom of information technology-and the concomitant "info glut"-has affected corporate leadership. Our research has convinced us that attention is the scarce resource in today's economy and that it can be managed.
Since attention management now plays such a critical role to a company's success, corporate leaders must take on the responsibility to help themselves and the people in their organization manage attention.
Why attention is a scarce resource
Attention is the bridge between awareness and action. If an issue does not receive attention, it will not result in action, because attention is always a precursor to productive behavior.
Attention is at a premium partly, but only partly, because information has been becoming less expensive for many years. Today's manager can, with just a few mouse-clicks, call up more external information than any one can ever fully absorb-all while dealing with increasing numbers of phone calls, e-mails and faxes.
But an equally important challenge is the increasing speed and complexity of our business lives. Decades of global competition have produced lean organizations, very high customer expectations, short cycle times and a need for JIT everything. Yet our research indicates while the number of targets corporate leaders must now set in their sights has multiplied, their capacity to aim at several targets simultaneously has not.
The two basic problems of the attention economy
In the attention economy, every corporate leader faces two basic problems: how to get and hold the attention of employees, consumers, stockholders, potential employees and others, and how to parcel out their own attention in the face of overwhelming options. Companies whose leaders succeed at managing attention will find that winning the battle for attention pays handsome rewards.
Pay attention to where you pay attention
A key attribute of a corporate leader is the ability to focus his or her attention. To develop this attribute, executives must recognize where their attention is directed and discern if it is appropriately and effectively aimed.
One way of determining if attention is effectively focused is to review the actions of employees. Using the AttentionScape tool, our research clearly shows that employees throughout a company make decisions on what to pay attention to based on their perception of what their leaders are paying attention to.
On that note, we recommend corporate leaders:
- Go public about where they spend their attention. By telling others about the items in their field of attention, employees will become more self-aware;
- Set attention goals for themselves. Know where they want to spend their future attention.
- Get feedback. Often, colleagues, employees or friends have a better sense of how executives spend their attention than executives themselves do. Ask colleagues and customers: "What do you think I pay attention to. The answers may surprise you. When you pay attention-attention pays.
Meet the Author
Thomas H. Davenport is the Director of the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change and a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Babson College. He is the author of Mission Critical: Realizing the Promise of Enterprise Systems, Process Innovation: Reengineering Work through Information Technology, and the co-author of Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know.
John C. Beck is a Senior Research Fellow at the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change and a Visiting Professor at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.
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