For a while now, the research community has been trumpeting the notion of focus. 

In other words, toggling from one thing to another doubles errors and decreases productivity.

The Journal of Experimental Psychology.  Stanford.   University of California/Irvine.  And still other psychologists are encouraging that we do less, get more.

Yet software and technology seem to demand our attention on all fronts, at all times.  Count, for instance, the number of browser tabs open.  Notifications per minute about email, texts, and other media.  Even the times per hour we check our inboxes.

So, like the slow food movement, Slow Web is being born.  It’s the idea of doing one activity at a time with as few distractions and interruptions as possible.  No real-time alerts, simply concentration on the activity at hand. 

As communicators and, quite frankly, proponents of media of all sorts, it’s to our advantage to champion SW.  Much of our advocacy could be in the form of a true campaign; after all, who knows best how to tame the tech beast than us?  Recommendations like prioritizing, meeting with managers to identify to-dos, identifying and avoiding distractions, and, yes, underestimating daily goals are just a few top-of-mind thoughts (and we’re sure you’ve got others).  Even goldfish have a longer attention span than we do.

It’ll take time, patience, and practice.  We call it “catching the mono-culture.”















Dear Rex,

Not so long ago, you penned a Chicago Tribune column about the issue with corporate wellness programs, the fact that fewer than 50 percent of employers formally evaluated the results.  [Courtesy of a Kaiser Family Foundation report.]

You then admonished businesses to communicate, to spell out the whys and wherefores.  And you also noted (and we quote):  “[Companies] love to take pragmatic programs like this and dress them up in peppy buzzwords and then market them to employees.”

So, Rex:  You’re wrong.  Big time.

What your opinion fails to consider:

  • There’s something called ‘cognitive dissonance,” when people deliberately go out of their way to avoid information about behaviors that need to be corrected, or subjects we just don’t wanna read about/listen to.
  • Factor in the phenomenon called the ADHD syndrome; each of us spends about eight seconds perusing info before we get distracted.  [And that’s the latest statistic!]
  • Few of us communicators ‘market’ plans and programs and initiatives to employees.  We know better.  Usually, we look at behaviors and attitudes and the role of change within the company – and then develop a compelling, consistent, and clear plan to achieve the results needed.  Which could include training, change agents, executive consensus and sponsorship, and all the smart channels you failed to mention.

So, please Rex, do us a favor:  Check out what we do before you dismiss it as ‘peppy buzzwords.’


              Raised eyebrows.

              The Trojan Horse.

              A wrinkled forehead.

              Japan attacks Pearl Harbor.

Today, our lives are spattered with surprise – whether we express it verbally, facially, through startled or synchronized actions.  Nothing says that better than dialing into the news or following a particular account through all its iterations.  [Think of the latest Netflix phenomenon, the Making a Murderer.]

On the other hand, our work lives, for many reasons, are fairly immune from surprises.  We’re informed about company happenings, exchange information with colleagues, and labor pretty hard to get our jobs done well.

Or are we protected?  In days of mergers and acquisitions, of stock markets reacting to every little up or downtick, and of corporate cost consciousness infiltrating many activities, surprise has got to be a staple of our lives – and managing it, commonplace. 

How to do that?  Obviously, reinforcing good words on how to deal with change is a given.  Many learning and development gurus usually recommend a basic course or book or module.  Or exploring on your own and with a team.

There’s also another path – one that can be embedded weekly.  Which is the telling of stories with a surprise element.   It can be communicated in a series of narratives or ongoing conversations.  Or simply a look at the business’ history to demonstrate how surprise is usually not, really truly, an out-of-the-blue startle.

Shock, after all, is not a strategy.


To us, vacations* are times to experience the new and novel.  To explore unfamiliar territories.  And to kick back and relax (a hard thing for us to do).

Africa was our destination.  A trip we’d been salivating over. 

We witnessed fighting-to-the-death hippos (over a girl, no less). 

Saw painted wolves, fur dripping with blood after a kill, and no cares in the world, except for their pups. 

And watched baboons monkey around with all things human.

That same trip connected us with villagers and townies in the big and little places in South Africa, in Botswana, and in Zimbabwe.  Out our train windows we negotiated with Africans selling hand-crafted items.  After Victoria Falls they descended en masse.  And in a little Zimbabwe community, all 20 citizens greeted our bus – and proudly showed us their cell phone, their homes … and their beer-making hut.

At every stop, at every pause, we heard the word “ish.”  To them, it meant sort of, or around the time.  There could be delays – unavoidable due to nature.  There might be some variance in getting together, depending on other people.  The “ish,” to them, was truth.  They would absolutely stick to the agreement, to the meeting.  But “ish” might intervene to make them miss the exact time.

That’s alien to our work worlds.  At many companies, “ish” might be anathema … even a few minutes off might spell an issue, even some sort of warning.  On the dot, after all, means punctuality.

Yet:  Is it time to re-think our clocks, and savor the minutes we spend waiting – and, perhaps, dreaming? 


*That’s the reason for our month-long blogging silence.  We’re back!