Interview with Thomas H. Davenport & John C. Beck
"You've got (lots and lots of) mail"
Everyone in business is bombarded with information - from e-mail and voice mail to professional journals and PowerPoint presentations. How do you decide which information is worthy of your attention? And how can you make sure consumers are paying attention to your message? Co-authors Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck explore the importance of attention in a ground-breaking book, The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business. According to the authors, it's fitting that we "pay" attention, because attention is one of the most valuable commodities in business.
BookPage recently discussed the challenges of paying attention in the information age with co-author Thomas Davenport, a management professor and consultant.
Is the free flow of information a blessing or a curse for today's managers?
It's probably both - certainly we are informed by it, and it gives us a better sense of what's going on in our business and our lives. But it can also be extremely distracting and can keep us from attending to what's important. It can also be a bit addictive.
What's the difference between managing your time and managing your
Managing time isn't enough for knowledge workers. You also have to manage the allocation of your brain cells. We all have experiences of devoting a lot of time to something, and not much attention - and vice-versa.
How does a successful leader manage his or her attention?
It's all about prioritizing what really matters - the work that matters, the information sources that matter and the people who matter. A leader not only has to focus his or her own attention, but also to try to get other people's attention focused on both the leader and the issues that the leader thinks are critical to the organization.
How many e-mail messages did you have waiting in your inbox today?
Between my office and university e-mail addresses, I get about 100 a day. Plus 15 or so voice mails, a few faxes and a dozen pieces of paper mail. I'm overwhelmed like everyone else.
Are most people better at paying attention at home or at work?
We just pay attention to different things. Since the average American watches television for three hours and 26 minutes per day, a lot of home attention is presumably going to that.