Selective attention

Philip Morgan

You've seen this test of attention before, right?(It's this video: the video you're asked to count how many times the people wearing white shirts pass a basketball.Spoiler alert: If you've never taken this test before, maybe watch the whole video before you read any more of this email................The first time I watched this video, I was so focused on counting the number of ball passes I completely missed the person in a gorilla suit who walks through the camera frame.Nowadays, I think about this as an analogy for some of you:You focus on your technical expertise ("getting the software to compile") much more than business expertise (using the software to create value for your clients).I wish I had better language to use to describe this phenomena. So much so, I tried a different version of that same graphic:That language is 1% better, but it's not good enough. I'm still trying. Anyway...Then I put it into this visualization:The red area is the relative importance of pure technical expertise ("getting the software to compile", so to speak) and the blue is the relative importance of applied business expertise (advising clients on how to use custom software to create value for their business).If you want to be free of caring about the applied business expertise, get a job. If you want to absolutely maximize the value you can create for your clients, move towards the consulting end of this spectrum. But don't try to apply the "job" mental model for how much your technical expertise matters to "consulting". It won't work well in that context.The graph below tries to illustrate value creation potential:The orange area illustrates value creation potential. See how it gets much bigger when you start adding in applied business expertise, even if you bring less pure technical expertise to the client engagement?**What exactly is applied business expertise?**I'm still struggling to make that clear.I've experienced the importance of applied business expertise firsthand in my own business. I know tons of people who have also experienced it. I invite lots of them to tell their stories about it on I know folks like Kirk Bowman also try to share stories about value creation: yet I am still working at getter better at describing exactly how you, dear self-employed software developer, can understand and develop and apply this concept of applied business expertise.Bear with me while I get better at explaining and illustrating this concept.But also... don't forget to notice the "man in a gorilla suit" in your own business. It might revolutionize things for you. is a good starting point for your own personal business revolution.-P