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Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business Paperback – Jul 23 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (July 23 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578518717
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578518715
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 17.1 x 22.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #633,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Amazon

Welcome to the Attention Economy. If yesterday was the age of information, today is the age of trying to attract or employ the attention necessary to use that information. Indeed, leaders and managers in the business world face this problem daily, constantly seeking to gain the attention of their customers and employees while managing an effective distribution of their own limited supply. "Understanding and managing attention is now the single most important determinant of business success," the authors declare as they examine what attention actually is, how it can be measured, how it is being technologically constructed and protected, and so on. The book contains numerous suggestions on how leaders can manage their own attention and that of their employees more effectively (and how to avoid and treat "info-stress"), but always with an eye on the ultimate goal: affecting the type and amount of attention your customers give you. Already, more money is usually spent on attracting attention to a product than is spent on the product itself. And as our information environment gets increasingly saturated, holding a person's attention becomes an ever more difficult proposition; as the authors suggest, actually paying for someone to receive your information is a realistic prospect in the not-too-distant future. Indeed, the book's final chapter is devoted to what the authors predict will affect attention in the future, and how attention can and will be acquired, monitored and distributed.

The Attention Economy is peppered with anecdotal pull-outs and "overheard" comments--and though intriguing in a random-factoid and zippy-little-quote way, this sideline information doesn't always tie in well with the authors' points and often seems distracting. The book is well written, though, and the authors, both of whom work at the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change, take an informed and well-balanced look at what is perhaps our society's most priceless, ephemeral commodity. --S Ketchum --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The most significant problem in today's business world is not competition, lack of skilled employees or an uncertain economy, but an attention deficit, declare two consultants affiliated with the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change. Put simply, with all the noise from meetings, faxes, voice mail and e-mail, it's hard to get consumers', employees', stockholders' or executives' undivided attention anymore. The companies that will succeed in the future, the authors state, will focus their efforts on this problem, instead of on conventional approaches to time management. Using research from such fields as television programming, Davenport (a distinguished scholar in residence at Babson College and author of Mission Critical) and Beck (a professor at UCLA's Anderson School of Management) explain how to attack "organizational ADD" on both an individual and corporate level. In one example, the authors point to an executive who postponed certain technological initiatives, noting that there were already too many demands on the company's attention. Though some of the writing is pedantic, the authors accurately describe corporate life and deliver a worthy message, along with short, practical sidebars. (June)Forecast: The authors' fresh message and an attention-getting jacket along with a $100,000 advertising campaign (including ads in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Business Week and PW), 20-city radio satellite tour and author speaking engagements will help this book capture the business world's attention.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Rob Lippincott is starved for attention. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
The book sets out in a bad direction, and never really recovers. There's some interesting survey material for those who are completely unfamiliar with the issues, but also many random unsubstantiated claims, much that's illogical or contradictory, and a ream of chapters later in the book with what seems to me to be vague management advice.
The initial bad direction comes in the form of a broken definition of attention: the authors claim attention is a narrowing of perception (sensory input), followed by an action decision. The latter part of this is completely bogus from a psychological perspective, and only there to support the marketing/advertising-oriented slant of the book. Yes, attention does involve a focus on a subset of sensory input, but no decision making needs to be attached. Think of watching a movie: it has your full attention; you're blocking out surrounding stimuli to some extent. But when the movie is effective, you're along for the ride, not making decisions. Furthermore, the authors *claim* that attention-management is different from time-management, but are very sloppy in distinguishing between attention, time, mind share, effort, persuasion, and a variety of other measures. It's maddening.
An example of the contradictory nature of the authors' advice is that they both advise managers to be creative in seeking their employees' attention (including multimedia messages, clowning in meetings, and other nonsense) AND advise that companies deploy "attention guards" to keep employees focused. Well, which is it? Distractions or focus? The sheer enthusiasm with which the authors endorse the arms race for attention (more and more baroque packaging of messages (ads) to get your attention) is disturbing.
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By Roger E. Herman on Oct. 16 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is a delightfully interesting combination of academic and general audience writing that makes it quite readable and holds your attention page after page. The content is nicely woven into twelve chapters that explain more aspects of attention, gaining attention, and holding attention than you could imagine. You'll learn a lot from these pages. An abundance of footnotes will give you more resources to pursue to expand your learning even further.
I turned down more pages than usual in this volume. I marked all sorts of things to share with others and to go back to. I even wrote notes on some of the pages, which I don't usually do when reading a book like this. The authors explain that "attention is the real currency of business and individuals...In post-industrial societies, attention has become a more valuable currency than the kind you store in bank accounts."
The official definition: "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." There's more, but I don't want to spoil this delicious read for you. You'll gain valuable insight into the role of attention in all aspects of our lives, how the ability to manage our attention is all-powerful . . . and how we struggle with our own personal challenge of managing the tremendous volume of information and other stimulants that bombard our senses. Part of the attention process is filtering and sorting, which is difficult for some people and can be overwhelming. There is so much in this book that I have no hesitation in giving it very high marks. Have your highlighter ready!
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book disappointing. Attention (and lack thereof) is on a lot of peoples' minds these days. The book highlights the distinction between time and attention. It also does a reasonable job of describing the increasing prevalence of attention deficit among individuals and organizations.
I suspect however that anyone reading the book is already well aware of the problem and is looking for solutions. The book offers few that are particularly new or useful. The book itself looks new. It has a 'weby' feel in that chunks of text and 'factoids' are scattered around the pages. No doubt this was intended to be attention-getting but in book format I found it distracting.
Given the ever-increasing demand for our attention, it seems more important than ever to get to the point quickly and avoid tangents. This book violates that principle by squandering the readers' attention on ideas that are old (e.g.: Maslow's Hierarchy), of questionable relevance to this topic (e.g.: mergers and acquisitions) or dealt with more comprehensively elsewhere (e.g.: how to structure documents to maximize attention)
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Format: Hardcover
This was an intriguing read and I would highly recommend it. This will be of interest to business managers as well as knowledge works and web site designer. From a business managers perspective it highlights a growing trend that the attention of employees in under attack. It raises the challenge for crisp clear and meaningful communication. It also challenges managers to not overload the communication channels with unrelated, unfocused and disconnected communication. Once again Jack Welch is used as an example of a simple message (i.e.,number one or number two) delivered over multiple channels with enough repetition to get on the workers attention channel.
The authors provide an extremely useful tool named AttentionScape that measures where attention is being directed. It could be used to find were management, employee, customer and supplier attention is being focused. The book provides several examples of companies using (or ignoring to their determent) the AttentionScape information. The ideas the AttentionScape tool bring to fore make it worth the price of the book!
As a knowledge worker the book highlights the importance of realizing attention is a key resource in completing any task and as such it should be protected and leveraged to get important task complete. As with management it also indicates the need for clear communication. The book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity might be a good way to explore practical techniques for focusing and managing attention.
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