Matrix Management / Virtual Teams

Who gets to decide what I pay attention to?

In an information economy the scarcest resource is attention and many of us have outsourced the decision on what we pay attention to to others!  Spam, unnecessary e-mails, meetings and other forms of communication represent the theft of my scarcest resource.

So instead of accepting unnecessary meeting invites, paying attention to “interruption communication” that arrives in your inbox without warning or invitation, we need to take more control over where our attention is focused or misdirected.

I’ve written many times, about the perils of unnecessary teamwork and cooperation leading to too many poor quality meetings and e-mails. If you search on this blog for “star groups” and “spaghetti teams”, you will see some suggestions on how to disconnect from these time wasters – many people on our matrix management and virtual teams training tell us they spend two days a week in these kinds of meetings and communication and 50% of it is irrelevant.

It’s helpful to move away from ‘push’ communication like e-mail that sends information to you, irrespective of whether you need it or not, towards ‘pull’ style tools like blogs and social media. (Ed: There’s an RSS feeder on this blog.)

A useful example would be  moving your corporate reporting on to an intranet. Nearly everyone I speak to complains about onerous corporate reporting and wonders whether that information is really used by anyone.

If you move your corporate reports to intranet blog, you can then track very closely how many people actually use the information. Combine this with an estimate of the cost for producing information, and you have a useful tool for challenging unnecessary reporting and control. When one of our clients did this they found that the majority of corporate reports were not accessed sufficiently to warrant the cost of collecting the information.

If attention is your scarcest resource, then manage the information you receive and control your distractions – try not switching on your computer the first hour at work and see how productive you are?

Why not share your experiences? How do you stop other people stealing your attention?

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