Today we continue the conversation with Maggie Jackson, author of Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age.
You can read part 1 here.
Q — In your Harvard Management Update interview, you said that “When what we pay attention to is driven by the last email we received, the trivial and the crucial occupy the same plane.” As well, it seems to be that a problem is our culture’s over-idealization of “always on” and “road warrior” habits, which distract from the importance of executive functions such as paying attention to one’s environment, setting up goals and plans, executing on them, measuring results, and internalizing learning. How can companies better equip their employees for future success? Can you offer some examples of companies who have positive cultures that encourage and reward employees fully put their frontal lobes into good use?
A. As I mentioned above, we are working and living in ways that undermine our ability to strategize, focus, reflect, innovate. Skimming, multitasking and speed all have a place in 21st-century life. But we can’t let go of deeper skills of focus and thinking and relating, or we’ll create a society of misunderstanding and shallow thinking.
To create workplaces that foster strategic thinking, deep social connection and innovation, we need to take three steps:
First, question the values that venerate McThinking and undermine attention. Recently, my morning paper carried a front-page story about efforts in an age of impatience to create a quick-boot computer. It’s ridiculous to ask people to wait a couple of minutes to start up their computer, explained one tech executive. The first hand up in the classroom, the hyper business-man or woman who can’t sit still, much less listen these are icons of success in American society. Still, many of us are beginning to question our adoration of instant gratification and hyper-mobility.
Second, we need to set the stage for focus individually and collectively by rewriting our climate of distraction and inattention. To help, some companies and business leaders are experimenting with white space the creation of physical spaces or times on the calendar for uninterrupted, unwired thinking and Read the rest of this entry »