People often say we’re multi-tasking ourselves to death. What is it we’re doing and why has this become a passionate conversation?
I call what we’re doing today continuous partial attention, or cpa, for short. In 1997, I created this meme to differentiate between simple and complex multi-tasking. The motivations and the effects of simple vs. complex multi-tasking appeared to be very different to me. I wanted a new name to describe what I was seeing in order to be very clear that when my mom was multi-tasking, she was doing something very different from what I found myself doing.
The meme, continuous partial attention, not only resonated with my colleagues in high tech and others outside of that field, it also ultimately led me into years of research – on individual and mass consciousness patterns of attention, trends, and related health and technology topics.
By now, I’ve developed what I’m calling ZG Maps* and a process for using it called ZG Mapping. ZG Maps spans from 1945 and projects out toward 2025. Some of the presentations I give at conferences and to corporations pull information from ZG Maps. For corporate presentations, I often map the company’s history to the ZG Maps, illustrating when and how the company was in and out of sync with what I’ve come to call, the dominant mass consciousness attention paradigm.
In The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen outlines how successful companies can miss out on important disruptive technologies by focusing solely on iterating on sustaining technologies. I admire Christensen’s work.
ZG Mapping comes at these issues from another point of view. My favorite Alan Kay quote is: “Point of view is worth 80 IQ points.” Thus, coming at innovation from a variety of points of view can add IQ points!
With regard to innovation, in addition to keeping Christensen’s points in mind, I think it’s crucial for companies to also consider:
- How their products, services, marketing, recruiting and management efforts can resonate with cultural shifts. Attention, expressed collectively, can define a community, a society, a business, a corporate culture or a set of products and services. Mass consciousness attention patterns are at the heart of the ZG Maps. A set of values, orientations, and trends emerge from understanding how past patterns flow into the present patterns, and then, into likely future patterns.
- How the youngest generation entering the work force can play a significant role in a company’s future success. In many companies, the newest and youngest hires become trapped at the bottom of a steep management chain, engaged in menial work, with little opportunity to effectively offer one of their greatest gifts: their knowing and sensibility of the incoming dominant mass consciousness attention paradigm.
These and other topics will be covered in future posts.
*ZG Maps: ZG for Zeitgeist and Maps or Mapping for orientation or orienting