Did you realize what our eyes see right this very second is NOT real-time at all, but with up to a 15-second lag? What does that have to do with brand and marketing management?

I was reading this scientific research that revealed a strange truth – that what we think we see this very second, is actually a composite image based on the average of the images from the past 15 seconds!

For those of you who are into photography, you would realize that our human eyes and its sight is very different from how our cameras work.

Our cameras, especially those with interchangeable or zoom lenses, can zoom in or out of an environment, to focus in a particular area, or widen to the maximum viewable area of a lens. And depending on the aperture set on the lens, we can bring clarity to an entire image (using a high F-stop for a small aperture), or bring clarity only to a smaller area and blur out the rest of the image (using a low F-stop for a larger aperture). Unless we apply digital or software filters, the images approximate what the camera “saw” that very moment.

Conversely, our eyeballs work differently. It is not quite a zoom lens, and not quite a variable aperture device. Much of our eyesight depends on our immensely complex brains, which act like an artificial aperture and zoom, bringing focus to an image, or blurring out at our will. The amount of visual information our brains have to process would cripple many of today’s computers, and according to the neuroscience research, also can cause us problems if all the information cannot be pre-filtered somehow.

The team of scientists from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and the University of California (Berkeley) showed that in this concept that they called “continuity field”, what we see is basically an averaged result from the past 15 seconds of visual footage, where our brains process them and then feed us with what we can accommodate without causing us hallucinations due to information overload.

What does that mean for us as leaders and brand managers?

When we are bombarded with various stimuli, whether it be our competition, the economy, the stock market, trends in our industries, manpower changes, cash flow, etc, we cannot and should not react to everything we see around. Some stimuli are useless. Some stimuli can wait. Some stimuli can do with some mental digestion. Some need discussion and collaboration before decisions.

There are some practitioners who would ingest every single information bit by the container loads, and hope to find sanity in the dumps through an obsession with analytics. Unfortunately, even with colossal teams of doctorates and supercomputers, digesting huge information piles need prudence, patience, and steady nerves. Those with fiery tempers and knee jerk nerves are bad candidates for dealing with information overload.

Information should not be indiscriminately collected. Practitioners must learn to zoom in on what is potentially useful, study it efficiently, and then collect only those information bits judiciously and expediently so that whatever information remains in a report or dashboard, will be the absolutely essentials to make agile and smart business and marketing decisions. Everything else belongs to that huge pile at the far end of the “to be recycled” dump.

Don’t be caught up and lose ourselves in pursuing mere information, but we are to find wisdom and intelligence in what we seek. Our own human construct has shown us to be the best example to manage our brands and our businesses. At the end of the day, we have a beautiful life to go back to, to look forward to, to attend to.