On Attention

Once an expert thief said to his young son, “Son, you are grown up now. I should start your training early. I want you to become a better thief than I am !”

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Once an expert thief said to his young son, “Son, you are grown up now. I should start your training early. I want you to become a better thief than I am !” 

His son nodded in affirmation. Both decided to start the training very next day.

The next day – thief says to his son, “Let me first assess your basics. I will give you 20 minutes.” 

He said, “Your task is to pick my pocket without getting caught. Your time starts…now !”

Then the thief continued doing his household chores while his son was stalking him all the time to grab the opportunity and pick his father’s pocket. Knowing the task, the thief was fully alert all the while.

Finally, 20 minutes were over. “Time up, son !” the thief announced.

He called his son and growled, “Oh boy, you are nowhere close to a beginner-thief. You will have to work hard to pass me off.” Without hiding his annoyance, he continued, “I gave you 20 minutes, and you could not even touch my pocket. What a shame !”

Son was listening to his father quietly with a smile on his face. Then the son said, “Dad, you are right. I failed to pick your pocket in 20 minutes.” Thief listened as the son continued. “But you lost your wrist-watch to me.” son announced. 

The thief looked at his wrist. With no watch on his wrist, he stood speechless and looked at his son with questioning eyes. 

“While I was shadowing, you were continuously monitoring your pocket; because you knew that I could pick it up,” the son said. “But while doing this, you paid no attention to your other belongings, and I grabbed your watch !”

Amazed by his son’s wit, the thief said happily, “Well, well, my dear, whatever you do – you will go places.”

Doesn’t this often happen in business life? People in business, CEOs, managers usually keep monitoring and tracking profits and stocks while leakage keeps happening somewhere. In most of the cases, it happens in terms of demand failures or leaks due to poor quality. Though it is understood that every widget produced undergoes quality test and every service provided is usually coupled with customer feedback, there is more to it.

Most of the things that count (including wrist-watch) go unnoticed. 

For example, when a company broadcasts any advertisement on public media – it sets certain expectations in customer’s minds. When customers buy that service or product, they value it in their own ways. If the difference between what the company said and what is delivered is too high – customers sense it. 

However, here is the kicker. Customers may not always complain about these differences. These types of discrepancies keep getting added subconsciously. And someday, customers abandon the brand, they switch. There are many such examples, and the list could be endless.

So what happens here – we keep monitoring profits and revenues from customers while we are slowly losing them, to whom?

Obviously – to competitors!

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