Multi-tasking

February 10, 2016

Previously, I have written about CI analysis, with tips on what to do and not to do to keep your mind sharp and to do it well. There is more to add. Here, I want to talk about that vital contemporary skill – multi-tasking.

Multi-tasking means you have developed the ability to talk on the phone while working on a memo and reading incoming emails copied to you. It is a critical skill for surviving corporate information overload. Mastering it makes you more productive. Right? Wrong!

Let’s start with what is killing business productivity. I would direct you to a great article on the continuing slow-down of business decision-making – “Revving Up Your Corporate RPMs” by Tom Monahan.[1] This piece points out that “[m]ost business activity is slowing down, not accelerating”. As proof, Monahan points to documented increases in things like the average time to hire to a new employee, to deliver an IT project, or to close a business-to-business sale.

Why the slowdowns? Among the reasons he gives are the growth in “control and risk-management functions, which are too poorly coordinated” as well as the rise of “transformation” which puts a business into “a state of near paralysis” in the name of improving it. Don’t believe that? Try to get a purchase order from many firms in less than 30 days, or to get any decision on anything while a firm is undergoing a “strategic review”.

Finally, Monahan points to technology which assists in adding stick-um to the process of decision-making. How? Think 14 people copied on emails, or working in “collaborative” companies. Monahan’s research finds that “60% of employees must consult with at least 10 colleagues each day just to get their jobs done.”

Now, look at multi-tasking. As I have noted earlier, millennials seen particularly addicted to multi-tasking. For those of us in CI, that means that “if you can get their attention during the combined IM, email or the telephone conversations, you are more likely to be able to elicit at least one or two pieces of competitively useful information because they are not paying full attention to what they are saying”. That is, their attention is diminished by multi-tasking, as is their productivity.

Now imagine a firm filled with people who think that they have to be multi-taskers to survive the daily consequences of lack of coordination, temporary corporate paralysis and/or excessive collaboration. Visualize them facing the pressure to review all of those emails they are copied on or “collaborating” with 17 associates in order to come to a single decision. Is multi-tasking contributing to more stick-um or is it just another unfortunate result? Does it matter? As for the CI analytical process (and anything else that requires serious concentration), stay as far away from multi-tasking as you can. Uni-task.

[1] Fortune February 1, 2016, https://diy-ci.com/2015/07/23/this-is-your-brain-on-ci-part-3-of-3/.


3 Comments on “Multi-tasking”

  1. […] Previously, I have written about CI analysis, with tips on what to do and not to do to keep your mind sharp and to do it well. There is more to add. Here, I want to talk about that vital contemporary skill – multi-tasking. Multi-tasking means you have developed the ability to talk on the phone while working on a memo and reading incoming emails copied to you. It is a critical skill for surviving corporate information overload. Mastering it makes you more productive. Right? Wrong!  […]

  2. […] Previously, I have written about CI analysis, with tips on what to do and not to do to keep your mind sharp and to do it well. There is more to add. Here, I want to talk about that vital contemporary skill – multi-tasking. Multi-tasking means you have developed the ability to talk on the phone while working on a memo and reading incoming emails copied to you. It is a critical skill for surviving corporate information overload. Mastering it makes you more productive. Right? Wrong!  […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s