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The Attention Economy : Understanding the New Currency of Business

Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck

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Format: Hardcover, 256pp.
ISBN: 9781578514410
Publisher: Harvard Business School Press
Pub. Date: June 2001

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

Trillions of documents circulate in U.S. offices annually. Internet traffic doubles every hundred days. Approximately two hundred messages flood managers' desktops daily. Welcome to the attention economy, in which the new scarcest resource isn't ideas or even talent, but attention itself.

This groundbreaking book argues that today's businesses are headed for disaster-unless they can overcome the dangerously high attention deficits that threaten to cripple today's workplace. Accenture consultants and academics Thomas Davenport and John Beck explain that the problems for businesspeople lie on both sides of the attention equation: on getting and holding the attention of information-flooded employees, consumers, and stockholders, and on parceling out their own attention in the face of overwhelming options. The resolution: learn to manage this critical yet finite resource, or fail.

Drawing from compelling research, the authors outline four perspectives on attention management that are critical to understanding its impact on business: (1) measuring and allocating attention, (2) understanding and leveraging its psychological dimensions, (3) mastering new streamlining technologies, and (4) adapting lessons from traditional attention industries like advertising. Using these perspectives, the authors shine new light on critical business areas including e-commerce, organizational leadership, information and knowledge management, and strategy. Attention management can be applied to help companies improve talent motivation and retention, avoid employee burnout, win customer loyalty on the Web, more effectively sell products and services, impress investors and analysts, and more.

The authors also introduce a revolutionary measurement tool, the AttentionScape, that can help diagnose attention distribution problems, determine how the company is directing employees' attention, and analyze the attention the company is getting from customers.

The first book to explore the burgeoning attention economy and outline a plan for how organizations must operate within it, this landmark work details how to earn and spend the new currency of business.


"In a world where hyper-speed, disruptive technologies, great new apps, and too many Emails overwhelm, where DSL has replaced LSD as an escape, and where every waking minute is clogged with information overload, what's a leader to do? First, take a deep breath. Second, read Tom Davenport and John Beck's The Attention Economy. You'll breathe-and lead-a lot easier."
—Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California, and Author, Managing the Dream

"Tom Davenport and John Beck bring a sharp eye to one of the greatest challenges facing CEOs: ensuring that key issues are at the front-of-mind of the organization. The Attention Economy shows you how to tune out the unnecessary and tune into what's most important."
—Gregory L. Summe, Chairman and CEO, PerkinElmer, Inc.

"As we drown in a sea of information and consistently fail to get our messages across, we all know intuitively that the attention economy is real. This insightful and informative book explains the mechanisms of attention and offers pragmatic techniques for managing your attention and capturing that of others."
—John Seely Brown, Former Director, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), and Coauthor, The Social Life of Information

"After reading The Attention Economy, it is clear to me that attention isn't really 'paid'-it's either given as a loan or managed as an investment. For companies that appreciate those distinctions, Davenport and Beck's book is an essential management resource."
—Michael Schrage, Research Associate, MIT Media Lab, and Author, Serious Play

"Davenport and Beck have written the first full exposition of how attention works in the knowledge economy. A stimulating and fun read."
—Larry Prusak, Executive Director, IBM Institute for Knowledge Management, and Coauthor, In Good Company


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About the Authors

Thomas H. Davenport is the Director of the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change and a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Babson College. He is the author of Mission Critical: Realizing the Promise of Enterprise Systems, Process Innovation: Reengineering Work through Information Technology, and the co-author of Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know.

John C. Beck is a Senior Research Fellow at the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change and a Visiting Professor at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.

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