Thursday, 23 July 2009

HR in the attention economy


   My favourite session at SHRM’s annual conference (from the reviews I’ve seen and listened to) was David’s Rock’s presentation on findings from neuroscience (listen to Peter Cayton’s interview on Total Picture Radio – and also see also my write-up of his session at the CIPD conference a couple of years ago).

Rock noted several lessons from neuroscience and leadership, including:

  1. Attention is limited and we therefore only pay fleeting interest to things.  We only actively focus on one thing at a time but we multi task by flitting between this and other things.
  2. The social world is very important.  Our brains are wired to connect to and relate with people.
  3. We can improve our and others’ performance by understanding and changing our brains.  We can change our brains by focusing on certain things and practicing certain behaviours repetitively. 


I think one interesting point arising from these lessons (that Rock also referred to) is that using new social technologies, and using them simultaneously in the way we tend to (eg keeping Facebook open while we’re working) results in our brains forming connections in new ways.  Gen Y are different because they’ve built their brains differently (and at a point where their brains were developing more rapidly).

Secondly, Rock notes that these new technologies respond to our limited attention and need for relatedness.  The technology responds to human goals, not the other way around.  Enterprise 2.0 is a human not a technology related change (something I’ve referred to previously in my posts and my own podcasts on HR 2.0).





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