I’m visiting family in the suburbs. This morning when we stepped out for coffee, the woman making our drinks was taking multiple orders.

Wearing a headset, she simultaneously juggled our drinks and asked a drive-through customer to repeat their order. I usually wind up amazed by the listening skills of the young people who make my coffee.

Today, we arrived home to find that we had gotten one drink that we hadn’t ordered.

When we think we’re “multi-tasking,” we’re actually quickly shifting our attention between multiple things. Sometimes this does not end well. (In the scheme of things, the wrong coffee was hardly an issue.)

Online today at Guardian.co.uk Peter Walker writes about introspection at business schools about their place in the credit crisis. The lede:

“When the former bosses of HBOS and Royal Bank of Scotland were called before the Treasury select committee a month ago to explain exactly how their institutions got into the current mess, one question concerned formal banking qualifications. Just one of the four possessed anything remotely relevant: the Harvard MBA earned by Andy Hornby, the deposed HBOS chief executive.”

Financial institutions used to provide lengthy and competitive credit training programs for people on banking tracks. In all of the finger pointing, the business press seems to have missed at least one interesting point: there has been a decline in credit training programs at financial institutions.

I studied finance at Wharton: that this was not, nor was it intended to be, a credit training program. An MBA is not a “formal banking qualification.”

I’ve been paying attention, offline, to other things in my work life, and thus absent here…

(And speaking of paying attention, I recently succumbed to Twitter. Frankly, I think that the crisis of attention today dwarfs the financial crisis…so I’ll be interested to see how this whole thing works, and how the business case that keeps getting Twitter funding could possibly play out.)

(Photo: “paying attention”, by flickr’s zachstern used under Creative Commons license.)