Pay attention

Published by Tony Quinlan on

Where do you direct people’s attention in your organisation?  What are the overriding figures and measurements you use?  and why don’t they see more than just those?

This is a fabulous piece of research – winning an Ig Nobel prize in 2004 – that shows just how inattentive we are.  Daniel J Simons and Christopher Chabris asked people to watch a film and count how many times the basketball is passed between members of a particular team.  The paper is Simons, D. J. (2003). Surprising studies of visual awareness (DVD). Boulder, CO: Viscog Productions.

Here’s the video – and for the sake of this, watch how many times the ball is passed between players in white t-shirts: Visual Cognition video

Now for the crucial question, but in case you haven’t seen the video, I’m changing the text colour so you don’t accidentally read this before seeing the video.  To read the next sentence, use your mouse to select the space from the end of this paragraph to the start of the next one you can see.  That will highlight the hidden text and you should be able to see it.

Did you see the gorilla?  Yes, the gorilla.  If not, go back and watch the video again and this time look for the gorilla.

Great piece, isn’t it?  But what’s that got to do with your organisation?  Let me put it like this – all the systems and measurements you have in place, are they focused on the process or the customer?  Because if, as is often the case, the day-to-day attention is directed at the process, people may never see the customer – even if they were dressed in a gorilla suit.

Now, remind me about “Putting the customer first”?