As leaders, if you don’t mandate reading for your staff, they may not voluntarily dive deep enough to learn and retain fundamental business concepts. Looking over the shoulders of business travelers and watching them digest information, some of the recent data and research on adult attention span came to mind.

Marketers and news media now have less than 7 seconds to get your attention and convey a message to you before your brain has moved on to the next task. Many digital media studies show it can be less than a second for a photo or headline to catch your attention – just to earn the right to occupy 7 seconds of your brain.  

Keith Prather of Armada Corporate Intelligence states:  “When I speak to clients or talk on the road to groups, it never ceases to amaze me how little we truly know about information outside of our sphere of interest/influence. We tend to succumb to group think. In a world where we have less than a few seconds to convey an important business concept, fundamental construct, or drive deep-learning into staff, we may have to change the learning paradigm to bring them along with us. As leaders, you may have to take a new twist on an old-school concept.

I worked with a CFO in the mid-2000’s that would give his direct reports a book reading assignment on a monthly basis. His staff would then get together and discuss the book, the concepts, and thoughts/views on the subjects in it. It was homework – plain and simple. He chose topics that would create fundamental best-practices for his staff – and many went on to take executive positions. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the activity. That was the early stages of the digital age, we could get lots of information via the internet. We had stopped memorizing formulas and such because a quick Google search would always bring up what we need. Our retention of information started to slip. In retrospect, he was on to fixing a problem – and he was heading it off.

Today, we rely so much on digital mediums for concepts and understanding. That’s fine, until we get into a business meeting and we have a group of blank stares greeting us when we ask about simple business concepts. Laws of supply, demand, competition, customer service, corporate decorum, and accepted corporate behavior shouldn’t be foreign concepts – and we should be able to apply them to any industry we work in. We aren’t going to change how we consume information as a society. The digital age is here.

Digital media and other means of fostering the 7 second attention span will continue to shape society. Armada will be forced/enticed to continue to evolve because of it. As marketers – it’s a challenge. As advertisers, it’s fearful. As news outlets, it’s killing us. If people won’t read indepth anymore and read for conceptualization and retention (outside of pleasure reading), then you may have to take education into your own hands as a leader – and push it with your staff. One of the first things a coach in any sport knows is that it’s O.K to go back to 101 fundamentals at times.  Don’t be afraid to figure out what the “blocking and tackling” of your business is – and mandate a little bit of reading for your employees to bring them all along for the ride. I wonder how many of you made this far in the article.”

Source:  Armada Corporate Intelligence