Origin Story: How Attention Compass Came About – DBR 016

How did the Attention Compass come about? Why is it a thing now?
Larry’s background through 2006
  • My career has been in IT management, so I understand something about tools, software, next generation technology.
  • Throughout my career, I was always a productivity geek – Stephen Covey, David Allen, new tech, phone, etc
  • During this time we noticed that email, (Windows) mobile phone, Ipod, and Outlook have replaced the paper Daytimer. Also, I’m still trying to make GTD work in Outlook
  • I had already completed an MBA, so now I’m definitely a corporate business guy
Then three things happened
  • The Iphone released, signaling the entrenchment of mobile computing devices.
  • Dropbox happened, meaning device to device information synchronization was readily available.
  • Facebook grew (passed mySpace), making social applications/media ‘normal’ and mainstream.
  • We’re in the social, mobile, and cloud world at the same time (and the great recession). Things began to change
I started my Ph.D.
  • I took a huge pay cut, so I had to take on lots of IT project work; I had multiple ‘jobs’ to track.
  • I also had lots of Class work. Again, this meant a lot of work that was disjointed.
  • Add in the PhD (dissertation) work, another kind of disjointed work. But the primary effect was recognition that I needed to get really good at PhD-level information management.
  • The physical environment handed me lots of places to work, so I not only needed mobile computer(s), but I needed mobile data.
  • Now I have two big questions: Where’s my stuff? And what’s my task?
  • And I’m overwhelmed, so is my GTD implementation.
The Ph.D. work and environment, along with the project work, delivered some constraints (or lack thereof).
  • I don’t have a boss telling me what to do; with autonomy came responsibility.
  • I needed to deal with the regular information (task, project level stuff, etc.) along with this complex unstructured academic information.
  • Psychology, neurology, how our brains work – gotta externalize and it’s lots of stuff. At the same time, I’ve got to get rid of the paper – it’s too inflexible and cumbersome to be as fluid as I need it to be.
Some light dawns on my own attention/task/time management system.
  • David Allen’s great, but GTD = paper = bad.
  • Evernote goes mainstream enough for me have an account in 2010. I had been investigating ‘note taking’ apps and had been using OneNote.
  • I knew scheduling, Gantt charts, etc. based on my project management background from previous jobs.
  • I was continuing to learn about information management through my Ph.D. work in Information Systems.
  • All of this came together into what is now known as the Attention Compass. Since I was involved with so many different kinds of work, lots of people who knew me well began to ask about how I managed. I told them and taught them.
People clearly needed it, so I launched a business.
  • I had to learn how to explain all this to people; nobody was talking about this stuff (that’s pretty much still true.
  • I needed clients to build habits, not just collect ‘tips’, so I adopted coaching as my delivery mechanism.
  • The name, Attention Compass, is based on the system’s focus on managing attention rather than time
  • Corporate guy turned entrepreneur
  • Delivering value through helping people
  • I think people are in two camps – head in the sand or jumping around with tips and applications. Attention Compass delivers a tool, along with a complete set of workflows, for people who are ready to finally solve this problem in their lives.
Now, its all put together. But, what does it mean? Where does Attention Compass fit in? Here’s the big picture –  what you’ll hear me talk about on the podcast.
  • Attention Compass is a foundational tool in managing knowledge work. So, it addresses the challenges of knowledge work management and productivity articulated by Peter Drucker.
  • Attention Compass is a highly refined Personal information Management tool. So, it addresses our increasing need for the ability to manage our own information articulated by William Jones.
  • Attention Compass tool and training solidifies Personal Information Management, which changes the nature and need for Group Information Management. So, it can disrupt the space currently occupied by Microsoft’s Sharepoint and Google’s G-suite.
Finally, the WHY of Attention Compass and my coaching practice.

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