We were gathered around the dinner table at a business conference. I was absorbed in telling my colleagues about a story I had read in New Scientist on the subject of attention, and how apes use subterfuge to draw attention away from their real intentions.
A small platter of the most fabulous chocolates was delivered to our table ready for the coffee service. I continued to explain how an ape pretended to be disinterested in a ripe banana just beyond his reach to trick other apes into thinking it was just a banana skin. His intention? To convince them to go away so he could collect the banana without a fight.
And as I was telling this story, the other apes at the table stole the best chocolates.
So here's a set of questions for busy people to help you pay attention to what's important:
1. What issues/problems/opportunities are you paying attention to at the moment?
2. What clues, snippets of information, worrying signs, new developments, weak signals from the future have you heard/seen recently that you have mostly ignored?
3. Thinking about the big events/trends in the wider world, what is happening outside your world that seems unrelated to your business/industry/situation that you might need to examine more closely?
4. What kind of process could you introduce that allows you to see/hear early warning signs for events/issues that might overtake/overwhelm you and your organization.