Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What Would We Do Without Research Experts?

From today's "Cubicle Culture" piece in the WSJ [subscription only]:
"Multitasking doesn't look to be one of the great strengths of human cognition," says James C. Johnston, a research psychologist at NASA's Ames Research Center. "It's almost inevitable that each individual task will be slower and of lower quality."
Well, no duh.

Back in my consulting days, I remember a good friend admonishing our team to "work smarter, not harder." He meant well, but for many people working "smarter" means multitasking by blabbing on the cell phone while negotiating dangerous automobile traffic, or, as I've seen many times, letting your luggage fall on top of someone's head while you untangle your old-fashioned, non-Bluetooth™ headset from the armrest three seats back. No conversation is unimportant these days, and I’m left wondering: What has become so important? Will the potential client sale collapse prior to the conclusion of my daily commute? Will a subordinate employee be unable to perform any work whatsoever without the last-minute instructions from the too-narrow aisle on this Canadair 50-seat regional jet?

Great power can be discovered within the confines of a tiny on/off switch. Let us resolve to use it a bit more often.

Technorati Tags: ,


  1. “Multitasking” thing is one of the most annoying buzzwords in my career history. I’ve had countless job applicants tell me how good they are at multitasking, I’ve had job interviews where the interviewer wanted to know how well I could multitask and why didn’t I list it on my résumé, I’ve had female friends tell me that women are much better multitaskers than men, who can only do one thing at a time and even that only half-assed.

    I’ve always preferred to concentrate on one thing and get it done faster and better from the start than to divide my time among several tasks and have them all take longer and sometimes be inferior work.

  2. I've had job interviews where the interviewer wanted to know now well I could multitask and why didn't I list it on my résumé.

    If there was ever a job interview question that made Calvin's point about total depravity...

    Don, did you take that job? ;-)