Simon Terry

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Standing In: The Future of Work

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What are you doing to cut through the challenges of attention in the future of work?

Attention Discriminates

Yesterday a client found me in a busy activity-based workspace by my colourful socks. There were too many dark suited males sitting at desks but only one was wearing loud socks. A distinctive trademark cut through the challenges of attention.

Our attention discriminates. We deliberately focus to exclude distractions. When humans lived on the African savannah there was already too much information and attention was a way to economise.

When we enter the future of work that issue of attention explodes. Streams of updates, flat networks of relationships to follow and complex rapidly changing environments create a load on our attention. If you want to be recognised for your efforts in this environment you will need to stand out.

Wearing colourful socks won’t cut it. Socks don’t scale. The traditional response of the extroverts among us just adds to the noise. One pair of colourful socks is a discriminator. Many are noise. We see the same with the ‘look at me’ cries on social media.

The future of work might not be about standing out. Perhaps it is about standing in.

Standing in

The way to get noticed in a network is to be a valuable node. Your goal is not to push yourself to isolation at the edges, it is to contribute to value creation at the core. In short, you need to stand in (networks).

How can we stand in more effectively? The Value Maturity Model offers us a guide:

  • Work for a purpose and gather those around you who share that purpose
  • Make connections between people to improve the efficiency of the network
  • Share relevant information, add new information to your networks and don’t pass on the dross. Working out loud is a great practice that helps others and John Stepper has described how working out loud works for introverts.
  • Help solve problems of others in your network
  • When you see an ability to make a unique difference, take that chance. Innovative opportunities don’t happen often. Take a risk and leverage your network to make something unique happen.

To fight the discrimination of attention in the future of work, focus on standing in (networks).

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