This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Yet Another Post on Multi-Tasking -- It's a shame that this topic is still necessary, but Tony Rizzo provides a good description of something so obvious, but so misunderstood.
"So, why is multitasking such a big problem? The answer to this question is explored best in two steps. First, imagine that youíre a customer at a bank. As you wait in an unpleasantly long line, for your turn with the teller, you notice that the teller is doing something unusual. Rather than completing each customerís transaction, the teller is beginning the transaction of the second customer and even that of the third customer. Then, she is task-switching, from one transaction to another, without completing any transaction. Before long, the teller has four or five open transactions, with none of them close to being completed. The teller is multitasking.
"Would you expect to complete your banking any sooner, given the tellerís multitasking paradigm? Obviously not! In fact, you can probably expect to be delayed further, by the mistakes that the tellerís frequent context switching is sure to create.
"Of course, bank tellers donít multitask. In such an environment, multitasking is obviously damaging. So, workers simply donít do it." [read the whole thing]
It's obvious for the bank teller example. Why is it not obvious in other environments? Are the pressures for attention pulling people in different directions for different tasks that strong? Why are they that strong? Is it because things are late and out of control? Why are they late and out of control? Perhaps it might be because of all the little bits and pieces of work that are only partially done. Why do we leave some things partially done and go on to other things? Because of pressure to switch gears and address other tasks...