Multitasking

How can we expose more people to critical thinking?
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sparks
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Multitasking

Post by sparks » Sun Mar 09, 2008 3:23 am

I've heard this before, and intuitively it makes sense. But I never did any real research until now (and one bloody link barely constitutes research IMHO, but never the less) and the reality is way more interesting than the simple idea that "multitasking makes you stupid".

linkypoo: http://www.apa.org/releases/multitasking.html

According to my take of the info at the link, multitasking doesn't make us stupid, merely inefficient.

Now, people at the upper levels of management in corporations around the world didn't get there by being stupid or inefficient. Why then does the bullshit continue to roll down hill about 'working smarter', etc. when quite often what is really being suggested here is that fewer people can and should do more and more and yet more with a set amount of mental resources.

I'm the first one to champion the case for human capacity and capability, but goddamn, there must be a realistic limit somewhere that we can all recognize. How then to quantify human mental ability. How do we characterize individual mental capacity? Does it make a damned bit of difference one way or the other?

I look forward to your thoughts, additional info sources, and criticisms.
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Post by Beleth » Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:03 am

Multitasking is just a word for "not paying attention to more than one thing at a time".
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Post by gnome » Sun Mar 09, 2008 4:54 pm

"Work smarter" isn't really about multitasking though... it's more like looking for ways to REDUCE the time and effort spent on a task. Though of course the label of "work smarter" is probably attached to all kinds of BS.
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Post by DrMatt » Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:34 pm

:RantOn:

When 4 business analysts queue outside my cube, each demanding that I pay attention to them while I take notes on what the previous person just said, I say "wait a minute." When they don't wait a minute, I say "You can wait a minute or you can go away, or I can call the project manager for arbitration on which mission-critical priority to put off indefinitely, and then call back the person who just called me and start over again with them. Don't do that."

Bit by bit, I'm getting them trained to request appointments on my schedule and actually write down the thing that just occured to them, instead of running to my cube interrupting me with whatever's on their mind, and making me write it down for later digestion. They're learning to "work smarter", and I'm getting to lead them there.

The culture of piling on the engineer also exists at some of the vendors I deal with; I've had to get tough with them, making them test their stuff before they deliver it to me, and making them schedule their virtual meetings rather than cold-calling me in the middle of the day. They're also starting to get the picture that an interface suite that requires 4 hours per day of care and feeding is not a stable interface suite, so they don't win any friends by talking up how "rock solid" the suite is.

For my team, "working smart" generally means thoroughly documenting requirements and findings so they don't have to be re-done over and over, and the institution isn't overly dependent on one person's memory.

Yet, folks who churn out large numbers of one-off solutions have routinely gotten rapidly promoted, even though their solutions then have to be completely recreated from scratch as soon as they are promoted and lateralled across the institution, because there are no requirements, specs, or source code and the solutions can't be supported in a changing environment. So "working smart" is code for cutting costs for management in two ways: reduced TCO of the technology, and reduced payroll. At various levels, there's strong incentive for individuals to abuse the organization. Many of us who don't abuse the organization tend to leave. Every 5 years or so, somebody hires an outside management consultant to tell them the same thing that appears on our annual employee satisfaction survey: there are no opportunities for advancement, so they're losing talent to other markets. The time before last when the consultant was hired, my salary doubled practically overnight, coming up to the lower end of appropriate.

But most of the end users do good, evidence-based, life-saving stuff, and I must admit to having a soft spot for that.

:RantOff:
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Post by sparks » Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:14 pm

Nice rant/analysis DrMatt! Thanks
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Post by sparks » Tue Mar 11, 2008 6:53 am

I guess I'm just damned tired of a bunch of assholes who play golf for a living telling me how to do my job.

And it really pisses me off, as they know shit about any of it.

But then again, I'm working and they're playing golf.

And so on.

Rotten brain bastards.
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Post by En folkefiende » Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:53 am

sparks wrote:I guess I'm just damned tired of a bunch of assholes who play golf for a living telling me how to do my job.

And it really pisses me off, as they know shit about any of it.

But then again, I'm working and they're playing golf.

And so on.

Rotten brain bastards.
And some of them can't even play golf!
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Post by sparks » Tue Mar 11, 2008 5:47 pm

:D :D
You can lead them to knowledge, but you can't make them think.