Attention is 'missing in action'


In Australia last year Todd Sampson's appearance on the ABC programme "Improve My Brain" caught people's attention. In the programme, Sampson looked at the science behind brain performance and what could be done to increase it. There has been a real focus recently on getting better value out of our grey matter and one focus is getting smarter in business about decision making, leadership, what people do in teams... It seems to me that we can't do much without really noticing first what's going on in our minds and bodies and around us first -  attention has to be the key to unlocking a whole lot of good things. I've been truly impressed with how much my attention has improved by using one of programs Sampson presented.

The program I've been using has a series of computer-based games (no surprise there), and it seems that just about everybody else in my life have been playing these for ages including my partner who swore by using World of Warcraft  to improve his decision-making as a first assistant secretary in government.

I found it a bit rough when my first game scores on simple activities such as picking flashing symbols and shunting trains flying multiple directions at once showed that 70% of people were better at it than I was. It's taken me a couple of months to turn that around (I'm proud to say I'm now in the top 8% of my age group  at shunting trains and spotting the flight direction of birds).  I've paired this with a little mindfulness training through meditation,  so it's not exactly a scientific experiment. Just by luck though,  at the same time I've been doing this, I've ended up  working with a colleague of mine in safety whose company has achieved great results by improving people's attention  (or reducing inattention) to what they are doing at work and at home.  Improving attention makes huge sense,  without focusing on what we do we can't  even notice our mistakes to learn from them.

So before you put out the next request for someone to 'do something'  to improve safety or performance,  take a step back, maybe paying attention to  our surroundings and what we are actually doing now  is a better first step.