This is the first post in an occasional series called “best business books you may never had heard of but should read. The idea is that in the rush we face on a daily basis, we may lose the opportunity to pick up on some good ideas that we neither had the time or attention to take in when they were first published. The first of this series is ironically about the idea of attention.
The Attention Economy came out in the fall of 2001 from Tom Davenport and John Beck. It looked at the importance of attention, how to measure it, how to leverage it in business — well before people were concerned about eyeball advertising or the attention garnered by social media. Its a good book and one that is still topical today — both criteria for this series. It just had misfortune to come out at a time when other events captured the attention of us all — making it a good book you may not have heard about.
I hope you enjoy the review and please let me know if you find this type of post valuable.
The original review below.
Have you ever wondered why good companies loose their way, or people tune out of meetings, fail to get the message, or heed a call to action? Could your company or customers be described by a metaphor such as “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?” If so then, you have an attention problem.
Attention is a scarce commodity that is often misunderstood and mismanaged. Davenport and Beck bring a unique perspective on the topic that crosses many dimensions of strategic and tactical business. Attention issues exist within the marketplace, company, business unit, product, team and individual. The book breaks this issue down and answers the following fundamental questions about attention:
- What is attention and how is it different from time management, prioritization and other ideas?
- What are the different types of attention, how do you recognize them? How do you act when you or your team is dominated by a particular type?
- How do you measure attention?
- How do you manage it?
These questions are all incredibly topical in the world of information overload, emails, voicemails, conference calls and meetings. Given all of the data/information/knowledge raining down on people today it is little wonder that attention is becoming a serious topic.
Consider this as the single biggest reason to read this book “One reason that consumer products executives have been able to move into other industries is that they understand how to capture consumer attention” p.93. Attention should be a hallmark of any good executive as clearly those who are able to command attention have a significant advantage in creating wealth for their companies and themselves.
The book goes beyond describing the problem to providing tools such as Attentionscape, and techniques to help managers understand where the attention issues lie and how to address them. These tools give the book a practical basis that is of real value to the reader.
Read this book if you are:
- An executive responsible for charting your company’s strategy and its implementation
- A change agent/leader looking to get their message across and deliver results
- A manager responsible for a team of people and the need to produce results
- A customer facing professional who has to address customer sales, service, and relationship needs
- A marketing executive who needs to understand how to get an inside edge on the competition and gain greater insight about current and potential customers
Davenport and Beck present the topic in an informative and open style making the topic of attention something tangible and actionable. This is not a self help book, pop psychology, or personal management guide. Rather it is a serious treatment of a subject, attention that is often overlooked and under appreciated in business, customer relationships, leadership and management.
If you choose to ignore this book, then good luck in gaining the interest, understanding, and cooperation of others that we all need to be successful.