Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Apr 2018

Paying Attention

Yesterday, spent some time on an upcoming podcast and one of the questions asked was about what new technologies or perspectives are being paid attention to. These are great questions because they don’t just talk about someone’s ability to lead, but also their ability to bridge where they might be leading with where others might be now.

One lens of this answer was derived from the recently finished Homo Deus. The popular and challenging reads of the day will usually offer a lens into some of the executive or dinner-time discussions. And while this book leaves a lot of conversation topics to be had - its what it asks of its readers to consider and direct which lands at a clearer question, “are you paying attention?”

Another piece to answering the question of technologies and perspectives being paid attention to was the focus on health and wellness tracking. It would seem to be a normative thing now for Fitbit and Apple Watch devices to be worn, and their metrics a part of the daily conversation. And certainly, those who run, swim, and cycle endear themselves to Strava, Garmin, Polar, and more in order to quantify the effects of activity and recovery. The answered perspective was to call attention to what you can see. The axiom in the workplace is that you can’t change what you don’t measure. And this is true with wellness. Whether or not it takes a connected device is another context. But, the message is again clear: are you paying attention (to what your body is saying).

The last piece of that answer was a curveball. On the surface, many will hear the response “pay attention to voice-led computing” and stop at what’s happening with Alexa, Siri, and smart speakers. However, if one listened closer, the response was found later - voice-led computing interfaces will change how we author other experiences. Whether it is because of lower friction (mind to product), different tools, or the permissioned controllers (external networked tools versus personal-networked tools), using one’s voice can and will reset the narrative in the same way new camera techniques caused cinematography to advance well beyond imagination in the early 1900s and again in the 1930s. Paying attention to the crawling of new tools and methods can often land within interpretations which had never been considered.

So what might you be paying attention to? Or rather, have you neglected paying attention because of the amount of stimuli thrown your direction? Your ability to lead, direct, facilitate, and serve land at the abilities you have to pay attention to the valuable things; and take the steps towards what realities they might create.