Archive for March, 2011

Our evolving attention span

Posted on March 25th, 2011 · Posted in Impact and Symptoms

One obvious aspect of this hectic day and age is that people’s attention span is much shorter than it used to be. As has been pointed out before, almost nobody reads books the length of War and Peace anymore… With all the media around us moving to shorter and shorter sound bytes and communication  happening in SMS messages and tweets, it would be natural to speculate that the cause of the shortening attention span is the influence – one can even say manipulation – of all these media. And yet it seems to go beyond a simple reaction; because there.. Read more

The one-page principle

Posted on March 18th, 2011 · Posted in Organizational Solutions

There is a quote attributed to Mark Ardis:  “A specification [or a design, a procedure, a test plan] that will not fit on one page of 8.5-by-11 inch paper cannot be understood“. This is called “The one-page principle”. Other than being a snappy quote, this is something to consider seriously. A significant aspect of the email overload people suffer is carried in the attachments; indeed, my first inkling that email was becoming a problem, back around 1994, was when a senior manager in my workplace had declared that he refuses to read any email that has any attachments at all… Read more

Does Local Culture impact email style?

Posted on March 10th, 2011 · Posted in Impact and Symptoms

I was lecturing on Information Overload at a hi-tech company and when I got to the part about “write succinct, terse, clear mails” an attendee raised his hand to ask me, how would that be perceived by recipients in the United Kingdom? Turns out that they had a workshop on global cultural gaps and it included the notion that the British like to start with small talk and only get to the point later; so they ought to find very short emails rude! Good point, that. Having also worked in a global corporation, I am very much aware of the.. Read more

Go home to your children!

Posted on March 1st, 2011 · Posted in Organizational Solutions

One affliction of the modern knowledge worker is that people don’t see their children: first, because they work late in the office; and then, because they spend their hours in the home clearing their email. I was pleased to read in today’s morning paper, then, that the Israeli civil service is going to adopt policies that will mitigate at least part of this issue. A report whose recommendations were approved by the cabinet will make government employ more parenting-friendly. There will be  summer camps for employees’ kids, there will be a  move to output-based employee assessment (rather than time based),.. Read more